This week, popular crypto-wallet provider MetaMask started banning all wallets associated with Iranian IP addresses. On Thursday (March 3), numerous members of the crypto and NFT community took to social media, sharing news that they had been completely barred from accessing MetaMask services.
The news of MetaMask’s widespread bans broke as the company released this short blog post. In it, they explain that the ban is due to their agreement with Infura, which is the service provider that MetaMask uses to get information on and off of blockchains. Ultimately, the wallet provider states that services will not be available to users in “certain jurisdictions due to legal compliance.”
After the initial publication of this article, Infura posted a series of tweets in which they noted that the restrictions were intended, but that they were made too broad as a result of a technical error.
“In changing some configurations as a result of the new sanctions directives from the United States and other jurisdictions, we mistakenly configured the settings more broadly than they needed to be,” the project’s official Twitter handle said. “This was our oversight, and we are grateful that it was pointed out to us. Once we determined what happened, we were able to fix the problem, and service has been restored.”
OpenSea also reportedly banning accounts
However, it seems MetaMask isn’t the only web3 entity moving to restrict access to users in Iran. Today, Twitter users reported that OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace, also started a large-scale takedown of user accounts registered in Iran.
This is a serious issue in a community (and ecosystem) that is founded upon the idea of a decentralized internet in which there are no gatekeepers. In which there are no businesses or governments that determine who can and cannot access information and services. As a result, it comes as no surprise that these recent bans have caused outrage among users, many of whom have opened up discussions about the apparent lack of a truly decentralized crypto and NFT marketplace.
For a few hours, sources were also reporting that MetaMask had been blocking Ethereum transactions in Venezuela as well. Members of the NFT community have since supposedly found this event to be fixable at the user level.
This is a developing story and will be updated as new information comes in.