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.

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Companies: ipredator, mastercard, visa, wikileaks

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Comments on “Visa And Mastercard Ban Anonymizing VPNs… Just As They Allow Wikileaks”

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Rekrul says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 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),


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.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Coyote (profile) says:

Re: 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’.

OnionLover says:

Re: 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

horse with no name says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

PaulT (profile) says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Erik says:

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

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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!!

Anonymous Coward says:

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

RyanNerd (profile) says:

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.

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