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<nettime> Torrentfreak: Mastercard and Visa Start Banning VPN Providers?
nettime's avid reader on Fri, 5 Jul 2013 11:31:58 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Torrentfreak: Mastercard and Visa Start Banning VPN Providers?

Mastercard and Visa Start Banning VPN Providers?
July 3, 2013

Following the introduction of restrictions against file-sharing 
services, Mastercard and Visa have reportedly started to take action 
against VPN providers. This week, Swedish payment provider Payson cut 
access to anonymizing services after being ordered to do so by the 
credit card companies. VPN provider iPredator is one of the affected 
customers and founder Peter Sunde says that they are considering legal 
action to get the service unblocked.

visa-mastercardPayment providers are increasingly taking action against 
sites and services that are linked to copyright infringement.

There?s an unwritten rule that Mastercard and Visa don?t accept 
file-hosting sites that have an affiliate program and PayPal has thrown 
out nearly all cyberlockers in recent months.

It now appears that these policies have carried over to VPN providers 
and other anonymizing services. Before the weekend customers of the 
popular Swedish payment service provider Payson received an email 
stating that VPN services are no longer allowed to accept Visa and 
Mastercard payments due to a recent policy change.

?Payson has restrictions against anonymization (including VPN services). 
As a result Payson can unfortunately no longer give your customers the 
option to finance payments via their cards (VISA or MasterCard),? the 
email states, adding that they still accept bank transfers as deposits.

The new policy went into effect on Monday, leaving customers with a 
two-day window to find a solution.

While the email remains vague about why this drastic decision was taken, 
in a telephone call Payson confirmed that it was complying with an 
urgent requirement from Visa and Mastercard to stop accepting payments 
for VPN services.

One of these customers is the iPredator VPN, launched by Pirate Bay 
co-founder Peter Sunde and friends. Sunde tells TorrentFreak that he is 
baffled by the decision, which he believes may be an effort to prevent 
the public from covering their tracks online and preventing government 

?It means that US companies are forcing non-American companies not to 
allow people to protest their privacy and be anonymous, and thus the NSA 
can spy even more. It?s just INSANE,? Sunde says.

Sunde explains that iPredator will always have plenty of other payment 
options, but sees it as an outrage that Mastercard and Visa have 
apparently decided to ban a perfectly legal technology.

?For iPredator there are always other payment methods, like Bitcoin, but 
it?s insane to censor a totally legit system that is there to avoid 
censorship and surveillance,? Sunde says.

Despite these alternatives, Sunde is not going to stand idly by. He 
informs TorrentFreak that Ipredator considering taking legal action, 
citing the Wikileaks win against the credit card companies as a 
favorable precedent.

Ipredator is far from the only VPN provider that is affected by the 
policy change. Anonine, Mullvad, VPNTunnel, Privatvpn and several others 
are also using Payson?s services.

At this point it?s unclear why the two companies are taking a stand 
against anonymizing services. It seems likely that an industry or 
authority has been pushing for the policy change behind the scenes. 
However, with privacy high on the agenda with the PRISM scandal, the 
move comes at an odd time.

TorrentFreak has reached out to Mastercard and Visa but we have yet to 
hear back from the companies. We are not aware of any other payment 
service providers who have taken action against VPN providers, so the 
scope of the actions are unknown at this point.

Update July 4: Visa Europe told us that it ?has not been involved in 
this matter in any way, and has not made any such stipulations to Payson 
or to any other organisation.? We specifically asked whether VPNs and 
other anonymizing services are in any way prohibited by Visa, but the 
company didn?t confirm nor deny. Visa believes that the issue was raised 
by Payson?s acquiring bank, which acts as an intermediary between 
payment processors and card associations such as Visa and MasterCard.

We have asked Payson to clarify the discrepancy and will update the 
article when we hear back from them.

Mastercard has not responded yet.

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