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December 8, 2010

Xipwire: The lone U.S. company standing with Wikileaks?

Some well-known American businesses have ostracized Wikileaks, even though the secrets-spilling organization has not been criminally charged for its leaks of classified U.S. State Department cables. Grounds for legal action against it remain murky, but that hasn't stopped some companies of accusing it of engaging in illegal activity as an excuse to dump Wikileaks as a customer.

Amazon shut down server access to secrets-spilling website Wikileaks, after pressured by Sen. Joe Lieberman. Next, PayPal, Visa and Mastercard cut off the group's ability to raise money from donations. A small New Hampshire company, everyDNS, cut off ties with the website, allegedly to protect its own network from crashing.

In all the hubbub, however, a Philadelphia startup has seized an opportunity to support Wikileaks -- and, of course, it's now getting some free marketing in the process. Ah, the land of the free -- and capitalism. (Facebook and Twitter, to their credit, have made statements that they are not closing off the site from its services -- for now. But financial support for Wikileaks, (what Xipwire is enabling) in some ways, is perhaps even more critical at the moment.)

XipWire Inc. allows people to transmit cash using their mobile phone's text messaging capabilities. The company has waived any fees associated with its service to support Wikileaks. People can make donations in $10 increments either from their website or from a mobile phone running their application.

Here's a statement from Xipwire from their Website:

While people may or may not agree with WikiLeaks, we at XIPWIRE believe that anyone who wishes to support the organization through a donation should be able to do so. We are waiving all fees so that 100% of the donations collected will be directly passed on to WikiLeaks.

I'm waiting to hear back from Xipwire folks; hoping to interview them soon for some more details. Stay tuned.

UPDATE:

Just got off the phone with Sharif Alexandre and Sybil Lindsay, of Xipwire and here are some more details:

Presently, Xipwire has received hundreds of donations to Wikileaks. The company has yet to establish formal ties with Wikileaks, so it is keeping the money in an account, and will transfer it when they connect with someone from the Website.

"They've been a little hard to get ahold of directly," Alexandre said.

Alexandre said Xipwire works with several charitable organizations and he believes people should have the right to donate to the causes they believe in, without interference from corporations.

"It's a completely different story if they (Wikileaks) were illegal on some level, then definitely that's a line we would not cross," Alexandre said. "But they haven't done anything different than The New York Times and The Guardian."

Alexandre said that the notion of his firm, which launched in May and has raised $500,000 in startup angel funding, is getting free publicity for its stance was a secondary concern. He said he is just as concerned about receiving negative publicity, since many believe Wikileaks is engaging in at least improper activity.

"We're fully aware that not everyone likes what Wikileaks is," Alexandre said. "But we are prepared to accept the consequences."

[FYI: I first learned about Xipwire's involvement from The Raw Story.]


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:29 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Smartphones
        

Comments

How about checking back into XIPWIRE as it currently.

While everything looked great back in December 2010 when I opened an account, access from it to my bank account has been "temporarily suspended" for weeks now. I can't transfer money currently in XIPWIRE out to my bank, nor add funds to it.
There has been no response from XIPWIRE to several emails re. this, though Sharif Alexandre and Sybil Lindsay were friendly and helpful at the beginning.

Something is not right at XIPWIRE and I want an explanation - plus access to my monery. BTW there are at least 2 other XIPWIRE account holders having this same problem so I suspect it is widespread.

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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
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