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March 4, 2022

OpenSea Restricts Iranians Because of US Sanctions

OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace, has apparently began blocking Iranian users from its platform, causing uproar among NFT collectors and reigniting debate about decentralization in the crypto sector. It’s also spawning a bigger debate regarding foreign sanctions and popular Web 3 sites.

On Thursday, numerous Iranian OpenSea users began tweeting that their accounts were being suspended or erased without notice. Bornosor, a popular Iranian NFT performer, expressed his dissatisfaction on Twitter.

Users turned to Twitter to publish screenshots demonstrating that their account history had been wiped, while users who administer verified collections complained that their collections had been gone.

In a statement, an OpenSea official told CoinDesk that users and territories on the US sanctions list are barred from accessing the marketplace’s services, including buying, selling, and transferring NFTs. If they discover that an individual has violated their sanctions policy, they take immediate action to ban the connected accounts.

The Iranian government is sanctioned by the United Specifies, and the sanction specifically states that American enterprises are not permitted to supply goods or services to any user based in a sanctioned country. Iran, North Korea, Syria, and, most recently, Russia have all been included to this list.

OpenSea is a firm based in the United States, with its headquarters in New York and its incorporation in Delaware. This means that the sanction has an impact on the fact that it registered its business in the United States and is required to respect all rules governing commercial operations in the country.

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This comes as officials have renewed their focus on cryptocurrency companies’ compliance with sanctions in the midst of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. During a Senate committee hearing on Thursday, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, an outspoken critic of crypto, questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell about whether crypto may be used to undermine sanctions.

These measures by OpenSea have reignited debate over whether huge blockchain-based enterprises and services are sufficiently decentralized, with MetaMask also joining in on sanction-based crackdowns.

According to MetaMask’s Twitter account, Venezualan users were inadvertently barred from accessing their MetaMask wallets when blockchain development company Infura inadvertently widened the scope of its sanctions-related crackdowns.

This is not the first time the bitcoin sector has had to cope with a problem like this. For example, due to US sanctions, an Ethereum software company, ConsenSys, abruptly excluded a group of Iranian students from its coding academy in November 2021.

OpenSea is still the world’s largest NFT marketplace, having handled over $22 billion in transactions since its debut.