Credit card companies have been seen lately taking up the vanguard of the fight against piracy. MasterCard and Visa are said to have begun to refuse payment to any provider of VPN connections–in the wake of their refusal to work with file sharing sites. Following the introduction of restrictions on the file-sharing services and strongly encouraged by the U.S. government, MasterCard and Visa have begun to take action against the VPN-providers.
The TorrentFreak blog reported that a Swedish provider of payments, Payson, was instructed to not process payments, after having received appropriate instructions from the operators of credit systems.
A VPN (virtual private network) allows the user to control a web site over an encrypted connection to the browser. This page request is then forwarded from the VPN server to the actual destination address and then issue a new IP address. Through a VPN server, Internet users can protect their data and thereby also make encrypted payments on the Internet.
The suspected cause probably lies in the fight against copyright infringement and online piracy. MasterCard and Visa don’t entertain file-hosting sites that have an affiliate program. PayPal has phased out such restriction in recent months.
“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),” Payson said after received an email.
VPN provider iPredator is one of the affected customers. The service established by the co-founder of the portal The Pirate Bay Peter Sunde, said that his company is now taking legal efforts to unlock the ban. However iPredator have a number of other options such as Bitcoin, to process payments. It was crazy to censor a completely legitimate system, whose purpose consists in avoiding censorship and surveillance, Sunde is quoted.
“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.
Visa Europe, however, told to Torrentfreak 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 organization.
Credit Card Companies would become increasingly focused on blocking transactions with Internet companies that directly or indirectly would earn with piracy or other illegal practices. But the decision of Visa and MasterCard could also be the result of consultation with the cultural industry that supports a freeze on advertising revenue and payments of sites involved in the illegal downloading or associated with this practice. WikiLeaks was also posted by U.S. financial companies on the blacklist.
A U.S. bill, SOPA, supported by the American cinema lobby, also imposes restrictions against such sites suspected of facilitating or enabling piracy.