OpenSea, the US-based NFT trading platform, has reportedly started blocking Iranian users from its platform. It was stated that this move by OpenSea caused anger among NFT collectors and sparked new discussions about decentralization in the crypto space.
OpenSea Blocks Iranian Users
Iranian OpenSea users stated that their OpenSea accounts were disabled or deleted without prior warning, along with their tweets on Thursday. Iranian NFT artist “Bornosor” expressed the disappointment of his 4,700 followers in a tweet that quickly garnered attention, garnering 342 retweets and over a thousand likes within a few hours.
The famous NFT artist said in a statement;
“I woke up to my OpenSea trading account being disabled/deleted without notice or explanation.”
Following this move, an OpenSea spokesperson said that it reserves the right to block users based on sanctions and continued as follows;
“Our Terms of Service expressly 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 persons located in sanctioned countries. If we find that individuals are violating our sanctions policy, we will act quickly to ban the relevant accounts.”
Current US sanctions state that American companies are not allowed to provide goods or services to any user located in countries on the sanctions list, including Iran, North Korea, Syria and now Russia.
OpenSea Leads to Controversy
This move by OpenSea, along with MetaMask joining in enforcing enforcement pressures, has sparked new debate over whether blockchain-based large firms and services are decentralized enough.
According to MetaMask’s Twitter account, Venezuelan users were inadvertently banned from accessing MetaMask wallets after blockchain development company Infura expanded the scope of sanctions-related restrictions.
Digital assets such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs continue to come under increasing regulatory scrutiny from the US government as economic sanctions against Russia escalate.
OpenSea remains the world’s largest NFT trading platform, with over $22 billion in sales since its inception.
This isn’t the first time the cryptocurrency industry has been involved in turmoil surrounding the intricacies of international sanctions, with multiple crypto exchanges embroiled in the controversy over Russian crypto-asset freezes. Binance, the world’s largest exchange, refused to block the accounts of “innocent” Russian customers.