Mark Di Stefano, Buzzfeed, May 1, 2019
Activists have successfully forced Mastercard to hold a vote by shareholders on a proposal which, if passed, could see the company monitoring payments to global far-right political leaders and white supremacist groups.
The proposal aims to see Mastercard establish an internal “human rights committee” which would stop designated white supremacist groups and anti-Islam activists, such as Tommy Robinson, from getting access to money sent from donors using the company’s card payment services.
It’s been conceived by US-based political activists SumOfUs, who want to escalate the battle against white supremacists and far-right groups from tech platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Patreon and PayPal, to one of the biggest companies in world finance in an attempt to choke off donations.
Robinson and several other leading figures in the global far-right have been forced in recent months to solicit donations directly on their websites via Mastercard, Visa and American Express after PayPal banned payments to them. Facebook also disabled the donation function on Robinson’s fan page before deleting it completely.
Over several months, SumOfUs has been locked in a battle with Mastercard executives behind-the-scenes in order to get the new committee proposal put to the shareholders ahead of the company’s June annual general meeting.
It would see the formation of a “human rights committee” at the board-level, which would monitor financial transactions to designated hate groups.
In the material to be sent to shareholders, the activists refer to a website called Blood Money, which tracks online payments to white supremacist groups from the likes of Mastercard, American Express and Stripe. The website currently claims Mastercard services are being used by groups like Counter-Currents Publishing, Covenant People’s Ministry, The United West, Sultan Knish and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation.
“Having a Mastercard logo on their website also gives these groups a veneer of legitimacy, and allows those who want to donate to do so quickly & quietly,” Dubsky told BuzzFeed News.
“Mastercard also benefits, pocketing a transaction fee for each purchase or donation.”
“Mastercard is committed to treating all people fairly and with dignity, and our interest in human rights extends to all areas in which our business is involved and where we have particular expertise,” it reads. “The Board does not believe that establishing a separate human rights committee is necessary to properly exercise its oversight of this important area.”