In the last few years a VPN has become one of the essential pieces of kit for China expats. In a recent policy change by the two largest credit card companies, they may become more difficult to pay for.
According to torrent news blog TorrentFreak, both Mastercard and Visa have started taking action against VPN providers in an effort to curb payments to services that enable copyright infringement.
There’s an unwritten rule that Mastercard and Visa don’t accept file-hosting sites that have an affiliate program and PayPal has thrown out nearly all cyberlockers in recent months.
It now turns out that these policies have carried over to VPN providers and other anonymizing services. Before the weekend customers of the popular Swedish payment service provider Payson received an email stating that VPN services are no longer allowed to accept Visa and Mastercard payments due to a recent policy change.
“Payson has restrictions against anonymization (including VPN services). As a result Payson can unfortunately no longer give your customers the option to finance payments via their cards (VISA or MasterCard),” the email states, adding that they still accept bank transfers as deposits.
The article goes on to quote Peter Sunde, a founder of both Pirate Bay and the iPredator VPN service, who said, “It means that US companies are forcing non-American companies not to allow people to protest their privacy and be anonymous, and thus the NSA can spy even more. It’s just INSANE.”
While VPN services provide those in China a convenient way to access blocked sites like Facebook and Twitter, they also are an effective means of assuring your activity online is encrypted and secure — including illegal activity, such as downloading copyrighted music, movies and software.
A quick browse through some of the most popular VPN services shows them all still listing major credit cards, as well as PayPal, for payment options; which may illustrate that the credit card companies are only targeting VPN services that specifically market to filesharing customers, and not customers looking for better security or to circumvent censorship blocks.