The dream of a decentralized world represents one free of censorship. A place where users can transact with each other regardless of location and standing, providing a method of taking responsibility for our digital lives and putting control firmly in the hands of individuals.
Now however, it seems this Web3 dream is slowly being eroded as major companies bow down to governmental pressure. Over the last few days, New York based NFT trading giant, OpenSea, placed restrictions on entire counties in line with the US sanctions list. Regular users are reporting the deactivation of their accounts without any prior notice.
NOT A gm AT ALL
Woke up to my @opensea trading account being deactivated/deleted without notice or any explanation, hearing lots of similar reports from other Iranian artists & collectors.
What the hell is going on?
Is OS straight up purging its users based on their country now?
— Bornosor.eth (@Bornosor) March 3, 2022
In addition, the world’s most popular Web3 wallet, MetaMask, also restricts users based on the same sanctions list. However, it turned out a recent block on users in Venezuela was enacted in error. Despite this, it still demonstrated the capability to use the function.
As a result, countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea, and now Russia are no longer able to access the platforms without a VPN. Therefore, requiring artists and collectors to take additional protective steps in order to use such sites.
These revelations have consequently sparked debate among the decentralized community, posing questions on how to maintain worldwide digital freedom in the event of these government-imposed sanctions.