Visa And Mastercard Ban Anonymizing VPNs... Just As They Allow Wikileaks

from the arbitrary dept

This is random. Just as Mastercard and Visa are allowing payments to Wikileaks again after a two year hiatus, those same two companies have started banning VPN providers. If you don't recall, the credit card companies refused to process payments for Wikileaks, following significant pressure from US officials, even as they have no problem processing payments to hate groups like the KKK. After a long legal dispute, an Icelandic court ordered the credit card companies to start processing payments to Wikileaks again.

Given all of that, it's quite bizarre that they're now cutting off various VPN/anonymizing services, as it should be quite obvious that there are tremendous perfectly legal and reasonable uses of such services. Personally, I have two VPN services, which I use when I travel, or am working from outside the office to make sure my data is encrypted and safe. It's really just good computing hygiene to use such a service. However, apparently, Mastercard and Visa would like everyone's data to be exposed.

It now turns out 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.

At least one of the VPNs so impacted, iPredator, is apparently looking at its legal options. Given Wikileaks' victory on a nearly identical issue, you'd think that the credit card companies would know better -- but perhaps they think that the VPN providers won't bother with a costly legal battle.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 5:43pm

    Mastercard AND Visa?

    They're not even trying to pretend they're not a duopoly, are they?

     

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      sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 9:04pm

      Re: Mastercard AND Visa?

      No, they are not, As a matter of fact, Mike got it wrong: while Visa accepts payments for Wikileaks, it bans VPNs. At the same time, MasterCard blocks WL, but is perfectly fine with anonymizing services.

       

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    Bitcoins, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 5:55pm

    I hope Bitcoins boom!

     

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      Rekrul, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 9:27pm

      Re:

      I hope Bitcoins boom!

      They probably will once it gets to the point where you don't need to take half a dozen different steps to use them.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 8:01am

        Re: Re: bitcoin boom

        You could try pikapay.com

         

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          Rekrul, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 7:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: bitcoin boom

          Under "How it works" it says you can load your wallet by either requesting Bitcoins from others or by using "Add Cash". Of course there are absolutely no details about the Add Cash option, so I suspect that they assume you already have a Bitcoin wallet set up with Bitcoins in it, which is the part that requires a bunch of steps.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 4:36am

      Re:

      They did!

      Oh wait, they're worthless now.

      No, wait, they're worth something again...

      ...aaaaaand....back to worthless.

      Hold the phone! It's picking up...it's going...going...gone?...no, wait still going...and crashed again...



      Oh what a fun currency.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 5:55pm

    while everyone is protesting and shooting fireworks, you know a new disastrous bill will make it through right under your noses...

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 6:02pm

    Lawsuits from small companies pale in comparison to the large ones the content cartels would bring, and that pesky White House involvement.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 6:08pm

    Given all of that, it's quite bizarre that they're now cutting off various VPN/anonymizing services, as it should be quite obvious that there are tremendous perfectly legal and reasonable uses of such services.

    This article is hilarious coming from you, Mike.

    If these services are so great, then why do you block people who use anonymizing services from posting on Techdirt?

    Do as you say, not as you do, right?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 6:32pm

      Re:

      If your posts are getting flagged as spam maybe you're doing something wrong.

      If you are actually spamming you're doing something wrong.

      This might come as a shock to you, but people don't want to read post after post of "milk! milk! milk!".

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 6:35pm

      Re:

      Oh really? Grow up AJ.


      This comment brought to you by a convenient anonymizer service.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 6:42pm

        Re: Re:

        And, here I am again using no anonymizer service.

        AJ, if your comments are getting "blocked", it's likely because you insist on spamming, relentlessly.

        And, any of your comments that do make it through are largely reported and hidden by the community. Why? Because of your childish and trollish behavior. It is absolutely sickening the disparaging levels your comments stoop.

        You are not trusted here. At all.

         

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      Anonymous, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 7:16pm

      Re:

      WTF are you talking about? I always post through a proxy (as everyone should), and I've never had a problem.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 8:09pm

      Re:

      Maybe they have a problem user that does not get the message that he is not welcome.

      I have had one guy on my website for a few years that just does not get the message that he is not welcome on my website, and I finally had to block all proxies, VPNs, and anonumity services to keep him out.

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Jul 4th, 2013 @ 12:35am

        Re: Re:

        Nothing so grand actually, it's basically one of two things:

        1) AJ continues to spam the same post, which is nothing more than a link to what's basically a stalker's diary AJ has focused on Mike, which trips the automatic spam filter(and rightly so),

        and/or

        2) AJ posts his usual rot, and the community, which has gotten tired of humoring him, report it as spam/trollish so quick it appears(to his paranoid mind) to be 'automatically blocked'. The fact that he's still able to post, and his post is all of one click from being able to be read is apparently beyond him, so he assumes he's being 'blocked', and whines appropriately.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Jul 4th, 2013 @ 1:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          From my experience: if you submit a post and it doesn't appear immediately, it's probably been caught by the spam filter. Links seem to be the main things that trigger it, and even then only when I forget to log in before commenting - yes, AC/AJ, if you impose anonymity on your comments, you lose any trust that an identity would provide and so your spammy links are treated as such. The post will appear once (I believe manually) approved - assuming that it's not actually spam of course. If the post appears normally and is then hidden, it's been reported by other users.

          In other words, either his comments are so full of crap that they're automatically filtered as spam, or they're so full of crap that other readers don't wish to read them. So of course, he'll blame that on some fictional VPN filter rather than the fact that he is indeed posting crap.

           

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            The Groove Tiger (profile), Jul 5th, 2013 @ 7:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Just to clarify, the spam filter catches even registered users. I commented on how "this is how idiot AJ posts: milk! (link to worthless crap)" and it got caught, but released minutes later.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 4:52am

          Re: Re: Re:

          This isn't rocket science. AJ's behaviour matches pretty well with that of a spammer:

          - Posts as AC;
          - Spams a link (and last I saw, it was a "shortened" link...tinyurl I believe);
          - Usually posts from a proxy/tor (according to himself, at least);
          - His text doesn't match up very well to "human" speech (milk, milk, milk...nuff said).

          These are all spam red flags. Alone, by themselves, they aren't a big deal, and the filter will probably let them through. Combined...well...that's a spam filter perfect storm.

          It is only natural that he'll be caught by the filter.

           

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      Coyote (profile), Jul 4th, 2013 @ 3:38am

      Re:

      You mean, pulling a Snowden right? Considering you aren't being blocked, just spammed, it's the community and not the site itself, dumbass.

      But I suppose I can't fault you; much like how you lay the blame upon Mike's shoulders, you refuse to think any of the blame for piracy, or IP concerns coming about all lay not upon the consumer, but upon the shoulders of the corporations, a problem they created that they refuse to fix.

      But hey, feel free to blame Mike and everyone else for your constant stupidity and naivete'.

       

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      OnionLover, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 7:52pm

      Re:

      Maybe is just your anonymizing service dude, mine works fine here, one of the few places by the way that truly allow anonymous posts.

      Seeing you wildly flailing your little arms in the air is just funny. In my mind that is.

      Now even if that is true and you are being censored, you are just proving one thing, nobody can stop you from being whatever you want to be even if all you want to be is an idiot.

      You obviously can bypass the censorship as you try to prove it posting in every single thread.

      You are determined aren't you?
      Now imagine the other 7 billion pirates that don't agree with you, imagine what they would do to you and your kind LoL

       

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    Paul Renault (profile), Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 6:09pm

    Grrr....

    I was kinda toying with the idea of a VPN account somewhere...now I'll definitely get one....

     

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    Pixelation, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 6:30pm

    More warfare, likely directed by the US government, on privacy.

     

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    horse with no name, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 6:51pm

    nice try

    Nice attempt to re-write things. Mastercard and Visa aren't "allowing" Wikileaks, they are being forced by the courts to process for them.

    It's not at all the same thing. Being ordered by a court to do something is now allowing anything.

    Oh, and three weeks on, and all of my comments are held for moderation still. Techdirt censorship lives.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 6:58pm

    I use VPN service every day, for work related activities. With all the NSA snooping and privacy invasion by corporations, personal VPN services are quickly becoming an important thing for regular people as well.

    But, because VPNs can be used to hide copyright infringement, the entertainment industry, in their eternal war against the internet, want to work hard to make VPNs, a vital tool on-line, harder to use.

    They never give up and they'll continue to play whac-a-mole and insist on their out-dated business model until they are no longer relevant and then we can finally ignore them.

     

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    dz, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 7:06pm

    Well, we can assume that MC & Visa are not now allowing payments to Wikileaks because they have become defenders of free communications.

    Perhaps the source of their original ban now wants these payments to be made & [as we know] made visible to the authorities [which fits with the anonymizer ban]

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 7:52pm

    Most major ISPs also offer VPN services. Verizon, AT&T, etc...
    That is a lot of phone and cable bills to not pay by credit card.

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 7:58pm

      Re:

      I somehow doubt that Verizon and AT&T would count as anonymizing VPN providers. That's the biggie here. If the VPN service is willing to sell out their users to the NSA, the credit card companies have no problem with it.

      American Express gift cards, here I come.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 9:42pm

      Re:

      But they're not anonymous VPN services. They're standard VPN services. Anonymous VPN services are the ones that don't record your IP, so are not able to pass your details onto law enforcement if requested too.

       

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      bearpaw, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:45am

      Re:

      Egh.. it's hard enough to find legitimate privately own VPNs and we're suppose to trust going through AT&T, Verizon, etc who make their money from the information they collect from their customers and have little hesitation to turn over client information without warrants.

      No thank you. Your point, however, is valid.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 8:10pm

    My filtering software classies iPreadtor as file sharing rather than proxy/anonymizer. It could be that classification that is getting iPredator banned. I would imagine MC/Visa are looking at how filtering companies classify websites.

    Why iPredator is classified as file sharing, rather than proxy/anonymizer, is a mystery to me.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 9:20pm

      Re:

      Why iPredator is classified as file sharing, rather than proxy/anonymizer, is a mystery to me.

      Probably because iPredator is (losely) related to The Pirate Bay, and anything with TPB associated with it is obviously engaged in Grand Theft Digital.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 12:52am

        Re: Re:

        Spot on. The scumbags are trying everything they can to take down TPB. It won't work, but they're, as usual, wasting the money they illegitimately took from law abiding citizens around the world to take down the very services that blows their antiquated business models out of the water. They have access to mega-stars and such forth, and they still piss around trying to stop free digital copies. They are clearly incapable of utilising the talent at their disposal and hence fail in their duty to the artists. As Richard Stallman said, they should be killed off, they have started a war against their customers, and that's simply not acceptable behaviour.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 6:51am

        Re: Re:

        "and anything with TPB associated with it is obviously engaged in Grand Theft Digital"

        I thought the official charge was "Felony interference with an outdated business model"

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 8:32pm

    This is exactly why bitcoins have been all the rage recently everywhere.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 8:39pm

    I'm going to try and use VISA and Mastercard as little as possible. I don't want to be responsible for supporting a dictatorship.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 8:44pm

    Interpol involvement?

    Just last April, Interpol was involved, along with Visa and MasterCard, in an effort to shut down payments to file sharing sites. I suspect this is part of the same operation.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 9:41pm

    Do they seriously not see they're just encouraging the creation of their own competitors, and hastening their own decline towards irrelevance?

    People ARE going to use anonymous VPNs, and if they can't use Visa or Mastercard they'll use some other payment method.

     

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      RyanNerd (profile), Jul 5th, 2013 @ 9:36am

      Re:

      Google Wallet just got installed at my local grocery store.
      I use PayPal almost exclusively for purchases.
      (Yes I realize that those are not technically credit card service companies, but it does add a bit of a private firewall)
      I wish more merchants took American Express and Discover.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 9:59pm

    VPN's First target of NSA

    If you don't believe being on a VPN is a HUGE FLAG pointing you so you are mistaken.

    Go ahead and use VPN's all you like, live in your delusion that it provides you added security, ignore reality! (at your own peril).

    Of course, make sure your VPN is sponsored by a reputable company, like NSA, I am sure they run THOUSANDS of them, it's so much easier that way.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 10:58pm

      Re: VPN's First target of NSA

      If you don't believe being on a VPN is a HUGE FLAG pointing you so you are mistaken.


      So what are they going to do about it?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 8:46am

        Re: Re: VPN's First target of NSA

        I don't use VPN's and I don't care if the web sites I visit are tracked, or my phone calls for that matter. I know they both are, have always been and will continue to me..

        So far, the only disadvantage to that is I have to pay my phone bill based on the cost of the calls I make.

         

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        Anonymous, Jul 7th, 2013 @ 3:22pm

        Re: Re: VPN's First target of NSA

        A person can only do so much, and nothing is 100% foolproof. But what you CAN do, you should do.
        I myself have wondered if the government operates certain proxies and VPNs, but so far I haven't heard of them doing so.

         

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 4th, 2013 @ 12:43am

      Re: VPN's First target of NSA

      VPNs are used for much more than trying to stay away from the NSA, and usually indicate perfectly legal and legitimate activity. They're welcome to decrypt my VPN traffic all they want, but all they're going to find is an extra layer of security for me to use when remotely administering systems with 100% legal activity being processed. They can waste all the time they want on that. If they're wasting resources on investigating my legal activity just because I want to protect my systems from a class of exploit, well it's not my tax money.

      Besides, which alternative are you suggesting? Are you saying that people shouldn't bother with any security because the NSA might still be able to decrypt VPN traffic? Seriously?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 10:41pm

    Holy shit


    Any argument they could have made for Wikileaks

    Fine

    What possible excuse would they have for VPNs? Fucking seriously. What do VPNs have to do with anything that interests these companies?

    What a couple of stooges.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 10:51pm

    I thought a little more about it, and the good news is that this means that it's infeasible/difficult/inconvenient for the government to track and identify users behind VPN services. Which means it's not that far of a step ahead in the game of cat and mouse online privacy. So it's a plus for VPNs, a minus for consumers.

     

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    TK, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 12:06am

    So, is this include Tor or is it just VPNs?

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jul 4th, 2013 @ 1:02am

    "This is random."

    No it's not, it's sheer idiocy and anyone who defends such a move is an idiot.

     

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    Alan, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 1:27am

    What VPN services do you use?

    I'm currently living abroad, and am not overly thrilled with my VPN provider as of late. What are the some good choices? I'd like to know which ones Mike uses...

    Thanks in advance!

     

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      Erik, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 3:40am

      Re: What VPN services do you use?

      One that I can recommend for the trustworthiness factor (haven't tried it so I can't judge the technical factor) is Toonux. It is operated by Bluetoof, the journalist who broke the story about Gaddafi's and Assad's wholesale DPI espionnages coming from French (Amesys) and American (Bluecoat) companies. And Bluetoof still reports and operates the #1 French-language journalism website about privacy and security on Reflets.info

      Personally, I rarely use VPN (I guess I should but I'm lazy) and when I do, I use SecurityKISS which has a free VPN scheme with an allowance of 300 MB per day.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 5:15am

      Re: What VPN services do you use?

      Torguard works pretty good here in the states, never tried outside yet.

       

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    Anonymous Cowherd, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 2:16am

    Only an idiot would pay for an anonymizer service with a credit card in the first place.

     

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      Niall (profile), Jul 5th, 2013 @ 3:09am

      Re:

      The thing is, many regular accounts use Visa as well, not just credit services - Visa and Mastercard back a lot of normal debit account services.

       

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      Anonymous, Jul 7th, 2013 @ 3:25pm

      Re:

      Never underestimate the stupidity of the human race. After all, there have been idiots who have paid for access to child porn sites with a credit card.

       

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    Alan Wade, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 3:13am

    My Concern

    I still believe that secure socket tunnel protocol is the protocol for encryption.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 5:13am

    Ipredator

    Of course ipred is crying they host many of the anti p2p community, and dumasses like the websheriff, what a terrifying title.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 6:44am

    all that really needs to happen is to ban all the Hollywood and entertainment industries stuff from the 'net and people can get on quietly and happily with their lives. think back and tell me when there was this much shit over anything, on or off the internet! there was absolutely nothing until those industries got their grubby little mits into it. there would be no problems at all if it weren't for them. the sooner they are banned the better. no one would miss their stuff, we all lived without it before, we can live without it now. the only reason they keep throwing tantrums and forcing (or getting the US government to force) this and that service to close is because they dont and never will control the internet, or the best file transfer protocol ever invented. if they were able to say who could use these two services and how much it would cost, they would keep quiet. as it is, i just want them to keep quiet and fuck off! somewhere out the way, like Mars, would do fine!!

     

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      ChrisB (profile), Jul 4th, 2013 @ 7:31am

      Re:

      No! It is governments that need to be banned off the internet, not businesses. Hollywood wouldn't have any power if it weren't for government granted monopolies for hundreds of years. This has to stop.

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Jul 4th, 2013 @ 8:19am

        Re: Re:

        No, it's very much both. While the government did grant them those monopolies, hollywood pays them quite well for them, so if you just stopped the government, it would only be a matter of time before hollywood bought their previous position of power back.

         

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    Daemon_ZOGG (profile), Jul 4th, 2013 @ 8:57am

    "Visa And Mastercard Ban Anonymizing VPNs..."

    Keeping on topic... Seems to me that your not really on the anonymizing path if your using Visa or Mastercard in the first place. Bitcoin or other anonymous payment transfer mediums may provide a more logical solution. ;)

     

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    bonford (profile), Jul 4th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

    "Due to a recent policy change"

    This sounds like Payson's policy, not Visa and Mastercard. Maybe they were on the hook for fraudulent credit card charges and felt this was the best way to protect themselves.

    This makes more sense than V and MC banning only 1 payment provider and leaving everyone else alone.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2013 @ 7:36pm

    I was just reading TorrentFreak and in it was a story about how some content owners are complaining that actually blocking links to pirate sites have initiated a cascade effect where thousands of new links are created for everyone removed, is like a nuclear explosion, where blocking of the radiant link starts a chain reaction.

    “It’s certainly fair to say that the blocking policy is perhaps backfiring badly,” Brandes concludes.

    TorrentFreak: RIAA Hits 25 Million Google Takedowns, Web Blocking Making Things Worse

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Brian Gendron, Jul 5th, 2013 @ 8:33am

    VPN

    The Payson VPN issue is not a result of a MasterCard decision. This is an issue best directed to Payson.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    RyanNerd (profile), Jul 5th, 2013 @ 9:44am

    Just to show you how old I am

    Just after the dinosaurs all died and this Internet thingy came into common usage, and the HTTPS had yet to be drafted... Visa and MasterCard wanted to force everyone to use their security protocols. After some wrangling both companies realized eventually that a single security protocol not nessicarly invented by them would better serve the public and their interests.
    This was a real debate when most websites did not offer a method of purchasing anything and most had rows flaming skulls as a part of their web design.
    My guess is that these credit card companies will eventually give up fighting against VPN for similar reasons. It just takes these two duo-opolies a little while to come to grips with reality.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bolton, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 6:46am

    Anonymous VISA

    This is why I no longer use credit cards. I'm now using anonymous debit cards which I get from BitMit like here:
    Anonymous VISA card

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    vpn, Sep 14th, 2013 @ 3:52am

    Why use vpn service for more security

    StrongVPN bids exit points to an impressive number of 15 countries; still it depends that on the package you have taken and you may receive the ability only for the usage of one of them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Silver Fang (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 10:32am

    Lawsuit time! It seems to be the only way these credit card companies learn.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    dinaafifi, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 2:53pm

    My VPN provider http://www.waselpro.com with anonymous and secure account. It works great for me everywher.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Australia Visa Services, Dec 22nd, 2013 @ 5:49am

    Australia Visa Services

    Yes I think it seems to be the only tems these credit card companies learn.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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