The world's biggest NFT marketplace has said it "blocks users and territories on the U.S. sanctions list from using our services — including buying, selling, or transferring NFTs on OpenSea."
OpenSea has announced that it is blocking users in Iran because the country is subject to U.S. sanctions — with NFT enthusiasts alleging they were given no notice that their access would be withdrawn.
The world's biggest NFT marketplace has said it "blocks users and territories on the U.S. sanctions list from using our services — including buying, selling, or transferring NFTs on OpenSea." A statement added:
"Our Terms of Service explicitly prohibit sanctioned users or users in sanctioned territories from using our services. We have a zero tolerance policy for the use of our services by sanctioned individuals or entities and people located in sanctioned countries. If we find individuals to be in violation of our sanctions policy, we take swift action to ban the associated accounts."
On Twitter, a number of Iranian users shared screenshots of the 404 pages they were confronted with after attempting to check their accounts. Some claimed that the ban wasn't communicated to them in advance — and had initially believed they had been hacked. Another wrote:
"One year of activities, all gone. They vanished my verified account with no explanation! Not only me but many other friends of mine are concerned about this cause their accounts are banned/deactivated at the moment!"
NFT collectors haven't just been affected by the ban, but creators too. One artist said that all those who bought their collectibles are now unable to see the photographs they purchased, adding:
"Why should they lose these NFTs?"
In other developments, Infura has cut off users who are based in separatist areas of Ukraine including Donetsk and Luhansk — but efforts to block IP addresses in these locations inadvertently ended up having an effect on users in Venezuela. This had also had ramifications for MetaMask, which uses Infura to access the blockchain.
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Debate about Sanctions Grows
Sanctions have been a hot-button topic this week given Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Western countries have only opted to sanction specific individuals and businesses so far — and many crypto businesses have resisted calls to freeze the accounts of all Russian users.
At present, trading platforms are not legally obliged to do so, but there are concerns that this may soon be the case if the Biden administration opts to step up its measures against Russia.
Farouk.eth, the founder of Rug Radio, said OpenSea's move to block users in Iran was "another testament to decentralization," adding:
"OpenSea and others are forced to comply, but it is sickening nonetheless."