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The Almighty Buck Communications Privacy The Internet

MasterCard and Visa Start Banning VPN Providers 353

Nyder sends this quote from TorrentFreak: "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. ... 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. 'It means that U.S. 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.'" Oddly, this comes alongside news that MasterCard has backed down on its financial blockade against WikiLeaks.
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MasterCard and Visa Start Banning VPN Providers

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  • And thus it begins (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hawkinspeter ( 831501 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @06:43PM (#44183075)
    So, it has come to this.
    • by radiumsoup ( 741987 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @06:48PM (#44183125)

      welcome bitcoin overlords, etc.

      • by gmuslera ( 3436 )
        At least we can have a beowulf cluster of vpn endpoints.
      • by keneng ( 1211114 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:54PM (#44183775) Journal

        Bitcoin, the first world digital currency exists. Bitcoin will be the best match for getting things bought and sold anywhere on the internet and in the real world while preserving our digital freedoms and digital privacy. Bitcoin is decentralized. No single government may control it. There are service fees like traditional banks, but the manner in which these fees are distributed is very different and fairly distributed. It has every reason to succeed over the traditional currency exchange scheme.

        MASTERCARD and VISA want to help the current super powers take away our digital freedoms and digital privacy by refusing to do business with VPN providers.

        Boycott Mastercard and Visa. Stop doing business with VISA and MASTERCARD.
        Learn to use Bitcoin instead of VISA and MASTERCARD.

        "Ideas and Discoveries" magazine brings up the idea "The Internet will become the new world SUPERPOWER" and "operates more effectively than America or China". Since no single government may control Bitcoin, Bitcoin is a good match with the new INTERNET SUPERPOWER because both do well at preserving digital freedoms and digital privacy especially because both are decentralized.

        • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:04PM (#44183847) Journal

          Learn to use Bitcoin instead of VISA and MASTERCARD.

          Sure. How do I buy bitcoins without using Visa or MasterCard (or Paypal)?

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            | Sure. How do I buy bitcoins without using Visa or MasterCard (or Paypal)?

            Usually you use Local Bit Coins or any of the methods []listed on this new user's guide [].

            • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:34PM (#44184093) Journal

              Heh, that local bitcoins site is great. "Meet me outside my apartment building and hand me cash, and sure enough you'll get some bitcoins, I promise, pinky swear".

              Anyone with any better advice?

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Uhhm, you _can_ verify that. Just whip out your phone and make sure the coins were sent before you give cash or buy from someone well trusted.

              • Well, technically, banks do the same when you deposit money. And given their recent record of honesty, reliability and stability, I don't really see THAT much of a difference to be honest.

                • by DrXym ( 126579 )
                  And "technically" a pharmacist is just a drug dealer. But would you fill your prescriptions from a guy standing on a street corner?

                  The answer of course is no for obvious reasons. And those obvious reasons also apply when discussing exchanging currencies in banks vs some guy you arrange to meet in a parking lot or wherever.

          • Sure. How do I buy bitcoins without using Visa or MasterCard (or Paypal)?

            Use Discover.

          • by theskipper ( 461997 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @09:53PM (#44184711)

            I withdrew $500 in cash from my bank, went to Walmart and had a Moneygram sent to Bitinstant. Within an hour it was in my Mt Gox account, minus all the fixed and transaction fees (a somewhat hefty $25). Certainly inconvenient but the process is pretty straightforward once you understand how it works. YMMV.

            Of course this doesn't consider what's involved in getting USD out of Mt. Gox which is ideally just the inverse. But I planned on spending the bitcoins so it wasn't a consideration.

        • The problem is if you want to buy or sell bitcoins for normal currencies, you need to go through exchanges and many governments are planning to regulate those exchanges to collect income and sales taxes. If companies are going to use bitcoins for trade, governments will likely tell companies trading within their territory to apply taxes to those bitcoin transactions too.

          While governments may not control bitcoin directly, they do have control over entities trading using it within their territory.

          Bitcoin may

        • I would love to. Now how do I actually get the damn things?

          I'm a fairly technical person, but I've spent hours dicking around on various trading exchanges and buying sites, but there are just *no* clear directions. Most of them tell me to go to a Walmart to get some tokens or a code or some shit. WTF? I thought this was supposed to be a purely online currency.

          Until we have "I PayPal you X dollars/Euros/whatever, you give me Y bitcoins" this newfangled shit just ain't gonna catch on.

          • by saihung ( 19097 )

            I just use my bank's online money transfer system. I didn't have to go anywhere or physically buy anything.

    • This has nothing to do with the NSA. This is all about the so called content owners protecting copyright. And with this they are starting to win!

      • Nah, technology adapts far easier and quicker against them than at their favor. Visa and Mastercard are hardy the only ways in existence to exchange money and as they become more and more restrictive other options are sure to fill the void.
        • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:37PM (#44184117)

          Nah, technology adapts far easier and quicker against them than at their favor. Visa and Mastercard are hardy the only ways in existence to exchange money and as they become more and more restrictive other options are sure to fill the void.

          Right... it is ultimately to their detriment to adopt these policies.

          They are creating a motivation and a market for other companies to replace them

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        They have been winning for at least a hundred years. Remind yourself of how copyright started and look at where we are now.

        They are persistent, they are skilled at what they do and they are most definitely winning.

  • Lucky me. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Danyel ( 107479 ) <> on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @06:49PM (#44183129) Homepage Journal

    I provide my VPN to myself for free. ;)

    • Too bad by running your own VPN on your own Internet connection, all privacy is gone. Everything can easily be tracked right back to you. Not saying that running your own VPN doesn't bring some serious advantages... but privacy is most definitely not one of them.

      • They can see who he communicated with, they cant see WHAT he communicated. Thats the best you can possibly expect from public infrastructure.
        • by jamesh ( 87723 )

          They can see who he communicated with, they cant see WHAT he communicated. Thats the best you can possibly expect from public infrastructure.

          But they can see that he has something to hide, which is probably enough to get a search warrant these days.

        • If he's hosting a VPN with his home internet being the endpoint, then all they have to do is see what's happening on his home connection. The only privacy that would provide is against MitM or people sniffing public wifi.
      • I think you're getting privacy confused with anonymity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @06:53PM (#44183169)

    When it's impossible to boycot the bad guy...

    • by canadiannomad ( 1745008 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @06:58PM (#44183243) Homepage

      What I really dislike about this is how it is a group of companies acting as a pack to instill their own laws/moral judgement on the world at large. Why do they get to decide which companies I deal with or not?

      • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:13PM (#44183383)

        Because it's their network and no regulatory body has told them no. Doesn't make it right, but that's how it is until somebody steps in and says no.

        • It's not really a private company decision. US financial control authorities merely disallow any money transaction company that flouts their political controls. It is not allowed to have a non US based credit card network.

        • This wouldn't have so great an impact if the companies involved operated and overwhelmingly served customers in a single country, even one as mighty as the US. But what about those who want VPN services to China or some Middle Eastern countries with a restricted direct line to the Net? Maybe this would give a boost to non-credit-based online payment services, even BitCoin. The downside is that you'd lose the ability to get your money back if a transaction falls through and so should be more careful who you'
  • Oh whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tibe ( 444675 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @06:54PM (#44183175)

    > 'It means that U.S. 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.'

    That's rather bias. It also means that people are no longer able to circumvent geo locks on media content, avoiding the current media distribution models and laws. Some people are protecting their privacy, but I would guess the vast majority just want to watch Game of Thrones.

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @06:58PM (#44183241) Journal

      I would guess the vast majority just want to watch Game of Thrones.

      This evil must be stopped at all costs to freedom and liberty!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Game of Thrones' Lord Vaerys: The content of a man's letter is more valuable than the content of his purse.

    • Re:Oh whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:06PM (#44183317)

      That people pay VPN services to bypass geo locks means they have money to pay *something* to watch that content. Media companies should take note and offer more reasonable pricing for content globally. All they are accomplishing by getting Visa and Mastercard to collude with them is forcing people to use even less legal methods to get content.

      "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." - John Gilmore

    • Re:Oh whatever (Score:5, Informative)

      by faedle ( 114018 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @11:18PM (#44185235) Homepage Journal

      I use a VPN service (VyprVPN). I'm a USian.

      My primary reason for using it is that many "open" hotspots have filters. These filters often filter out content that is merely "politically inconvenient", usually to the Religious Right. Since a lot of the web filtering software has ties to these self-appointed censors, they tend to be very aggressive on what they filter.

      VyprVPN allows me to access these sites even from behind this restrictive filtering.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:04PM (#44183295)

    Don't use US services.

    • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @09:37PM (#44184615)
      While on the face of it, "US considered hostile" might be taken as flamebait, it would seem at the moment to be an accurate characterisation.

      A nation (or to be fair, its administration) that continually bullies its own people and citizens of other nations cannot expect to be treated as anything but a pariah. Trouble is, I don't see any other governments having the courage to stand up to the US.
    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      Already dropped by US based Usenet provider and web host for precisely this reason. It was getting tiresome having to deal with a host that bowed down to everything the US wanted even though I was doing nothing wrong in my country (or even frankly under US law either, but this isn't about law, it's about morals being imposed by companies outside of the law).

  • This is why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DiSKiLLeR ( 17651 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:07PM (#44183323) Homepage Journal

    This is why we need a payment system that does NOT rely on PayPal, Visa, or MasterCard.

    And I guess this is why the US Govt. is trying to shut down bitcoin so hard....

    • Amen. I wish I had some mod points for you, which at the moment I don't. This is all about bullying. And more and more of us are getting sick and tired of it. Not only of the bullying itself, but also and rather of the many means there are to practice bullying.
    • This is why we need a payment system that does NOT rely on PayPal, Visa, or MasterCard.

      American Express?

    • by nbauman ( 624611 )


    • If the US government was trying to shutdown Bitcoin - you'd have a point.

  • by countach ( 534280 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:16PM (#44183413)

    Hmm, maybe they should rename their services. "Remote internet ISP services" or "SSL internet connection", or some other obfuscated name. They can't ban everything associated with the internet.

  • Surely there are other forms of payment that are acceptable to this Swedish VPN provider? Vote with your feet.

    Who knows if they're under pressure from the NSA or other bad actors...perhaps it's just related to CC fraud? In either case...see above.

  • What's the big deal? Pay by check! What's a week or two to save your rights?

    • by nbauman ( 624611 )

      I wonder. There isn't any way to prevent them from cashing my check, is there?

      I pay somebody by check, they deposit it to their bank, it goes through the international clearinghouse, gets paid by my bank, and get charged to my account.

      The clearinghouse can't just decide not to pay checks drawn to iPredator, is there? It's a legally binding obligation.

      Or if there was, it would be easy to get around it, right? iPredator could open a new account under the name "iPredator's Girlfriend" or something.

      • by davecb ( 6526 ) <> on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:14PM (#44183947) Homepage Journal

        Your cheque is an order to the bank to pay $X to Y. If your government outlaws Y, the bank cannot honour your order.

        At the moment, banks have a smallish list of countries and companies that have been outlawed, and so the bank cannot pay tme anything. These are organizations/countries claimed to be in of support of terrorism. If the government in question can argue VPNs enable terrorism, they can add VPN companies to the list.


    • Instead of having an anonymous pre-paid credit card that was purchased at a particular store but not tied to you individually, they now have an account number that identifies you as well as you can be identified.

      Thanks to money laundering laws and things like Check21 where it's all done electronically, you might as well put your name on every IP packet. It would be easier to find you by your check than figure out which John Smith you are.

      Pre-paid still gets processed by the issuer, so you need a processing

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      What's the big deal? Pay by check! What's a week or two to save your rights?

      Sorry, we dont accept personal cheques, especially from foreign banks.

      You're still at the mercy of the bank who can choose to not to accept cheques.

  • Two thoughts. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:38PM (#44183621) Journal
    1) Why does this not count as illegal collusion within an industry group? That they decided to announce it as a unified decision provides de facto proof that they conspired to deprive their customers of choice. If my itty bitty company made a similar joint announcement with one of our biggest competitors in the region, half a dozen state AGs would have us in court before the newsprint dried on the initial announcement.

    2) I make use of these usurious parasites' services because it lets me conveniently move my money from place to place without worrying about the security of either cash or my real bank accounts, and I can essentially do all my spending with one tidy itemized monthly bill. If I can no longer use Visa to purchase the goods and services I want, I no longer have a reason to use Visa at all.

    And a bonus thought, for good measure - For those talking about the NSA or Bitcoin - This involves regional protection of content, a favor to Hollywood, nothing more and nothing less. At least direct your vitriol in the right direction, folks.
    • Re:Two thoughts. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:59PM (#44183805)

      And a bonus thought, for good measure - For those talking about the NSA or Bitcoin - This involves regional protection of content, a favor to Hollywood, nothing more and nothing less. At least direct your vitriol in the right direction, folks.

      This is a favor to Hollywood; last time it was a favour to Government so they could try to starve out Wikileaks. It's a question of control. With the current system, Visa can vritually control who you can and cannot buy goods and services from, putting them in the position of being able to exert de facto control over the economy.

      A decentralized payment method (like cash, or bitcoin) puts the control in the owners of the money. Cash has too many historical roots to destroy, but its inherently limited in its ability to make large payments across wide geographical separation. Which is why bitcoin (and any other new, decentralized, electronic currency) is a threat to the existing system.

  • The only thing that changes is how its implemented. Communist countries control the press, we control it via finances.
  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:02PM (#44183841) Journal

    This is a restriction of trade. If we can force people to buy tainted beef and GMO foods, surely we can beat this.

  • Very suspicious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SoftwareArtist ( 1472499 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:10PM (#44183899)

    Does anyone else find this story very suspicious? I mean, VPN services are completely mainstream, widely used by business people. I bet that even MasterCard and Visa use them. And suddenly we're told there's a conspiracy to ban them. And the poster attributes this to the NSA wanting to spy on us. All based on completely anecdotal reports from one company that you've probably never heard of before.

    I suspect the summary will turn out to be a complete misrepresentation, and the truth will be something far less evil and far less interesting than this post makes it out to be.

    • VPN protocols are mainstream and widely used by business people, but not VPN providers (using the term in the article headline) - that is, an ISP that instead of being accessed by its customers over phone lines, DSL links, or cables, is instead accessed by customers via a VPN protocol over the Internet.

      Business people use VPNs to access their office networks. You don't need a VPN provider to do that. Business people generally wouldn't have much of a use for VPN providers - the only use I can think of off

  • Seriously, how big of a problem is this, that they need to be shutting down payment methods in an attempt to make you stop using them? I wasn't even aware that anybody did anything illegal with them. I didn't know until reading some of the comments that some people use them for getting around region encoding. Nevermind that region encoding ought to be illegal as it is. But still, if you sell a million hammers, and one guy uses a hammer to break a window, will Visa and MC stop processing payments for hammers
  • alternatives? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aryeh Goretsky ( 129230 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:12PM (#44183939) Homepage


    Does the ban extend to VPS providers like Linode and Lowendbox (et al), or cloud services like Amazon AWS or Google Cloud which could host a VPN? If not, perhaps provisioning a VPN server is one of these is an alternative.

    Credit card companies and payment processors might be less willing to suspend operations with Amazon or Google.


    Aryeh Goretsky

    • Since they aren't really doing anything illegal in the first place, you'll probably see a lot of companies get creative, like offering shared web hosting which just happens to come with a feature that allows you to use it as a VPN, but they don't advertise it as a VPN, so they are still able to continue accepting payments. Worst case scenario you lose the ability to collect payments using VISA and MasterCard. But you can probably still accept payments via PayPal. You could sell magazine which happen to co
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )
      I believe people like Amazon, et al. are offering virtual desktops now. So called "in the cloud" machines.

      The alternative to using a VPN is simply to rent a box (virtual or physical) in the US, then make your purchases from that box. Seeing as the endpoint as far as the merchant is concerned is in the US there is no real way to block it (well you could try playing whack-a-mole with "cloud" service providers and well, good luck with that.

      It's the same as using freight forwarders, but a lot harder to bl
  • by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:15PM (#44183959)

    I personally do not use a VPN service anymore, but have a request for anyone that does. I also request you post results here, in this thread, to share any response you may receive.

    Please call your current VPN provider and ask them how to go about paying them for their services without using PayPal, Visa, Mastercard or AmEx. Just see what advice they give to you in order for you to continue using their services (if any).

    I am curious as to how the providers themselves are responding to their customers. They may have already come up with a viable alternative payment method that has been kept out of the media.

  • I thought foreign companies such as Paypal, Visa and Mastercard had to obey certain laws before being given access to EU customers/clients and that this right could be revoked at any time if they failed to comply? Then how come these miscreants are regularly discriminating against certain EU customers?
  • For those of us outside the USA who use US-based VPN providers to avoid data retention by our own countries, these VPN providers ensured our traffic was routed via the US and thus could be collected.

    Thus, consequences of this are:
    1. People in more oppressive states who were using VPNs are now more exposed (if the VPN was being paid for by credit card, even by someone outside that state)
    2. If those VPNs were in the US, the NSA can no longer as readily monitor the communications of those people

  • How many people use their workplace computer during coffee/lunch breaks to make on-line purchases? And how many of these corporate intranets appear as VPNs to the outside world? That is; a gateway beyond which no IP or location data can be deduced. Are MasterCard and Visa willing to pass up such aa large chunk of business?

    Not every VPN service is named TorrentFreak, iPredator or sets the IPv4 'evil' bit. Some smart people will set one up with a 'respectable' name and probably bypass the MasterCard/Visa ban

  • by Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @11:16PM (#44185227) Homepage Journal
    Then only outlaws will have encryption.

    Of course, OUTLAWING it would incur a MASSIVE backlash from the population (insert legal challenge here).

    By denying encryption FINANCIALLY, you achieve the same thing with SIGNIFICANTLY less opportunity for a legal challenge.

    As Paul once said "He who can destroy a thing, controls that thing."
  • by sociocapitalist ( 2471722 ) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @07:44AM (#44186949)

    Following the link in TFA the email from Payson translates imperfectly but readably (via Google translate) to:

    Payson when recently updated its policy on payments. 1 associated with this
    examined your nemsida ocn then noticed that you verKsamnet unfortunately not
    meets the requirements of Payson.
      Payson when restrictions are against anonymization (including VPN services)
    That when as a result decided to Payson unfortunately no longer can give your Customers
    ability to fund the payment via their card (VISA or MasterCard).
    Changes Will be done 2013-07-01 ocn then no longer possible for you to take
    against this type of tranSactIOnS through Payson's integrated payment solution.
    The restriction does not affect the rest of your insättningsmetedeL Payson ocn
    possibility inieggad the Account implement tranSactIOnS Will not NOR to
    affected by the change.
    We apologize if this causes problems for you ocn are available to help you solve
    This conflict with the policy wherever possible.

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)