Crypto users in Iran and Venezuela started having problems with their Ethereum transactions. These confused users took to social media to complain and get answers. However, Metamask had restricted some regions in their countries from accessing its services.
As a result, users who attempt to use the digital wallet in the affected locations will see a message stating that MetaMask is unable to connect to the blockchain host.
— L.A.R.V. (@goluis1_) March 3, 2022
Users can view their MetaMask balances and transaction records. However, they are unable to engage with the Ethereum network. This suggests that the problem comes from Infura.
Metamask Service Affected by Legal Issues
The Metamask support page addressed the concerns of its users. The digital wallet stated that “MetaMask and Infura are unavailable in certain jurisdictions due to legal compliance.” The support page did not state the affected regions. Instead, it featured a link to instructions on restoring a crypto wallet using a seed phrase. Furthermore, Infura later released a series of tweets addressing the issue.
In response to the concerns we have been hearing, we want everyone to know that we corrected the problem that so many of you have pointed out. In changing some configurations as a result of the new sanctions directives from the United States and other jurisdictions, we
— Infura (@infura_io) March 3, 2022
Infura said it changed some configurations in line with US sanctions. However, it noted that it had fixed the problem and restored services. It wrote, “ 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 Restricts Some Users
Metamask and Infura are not the only crypto platforms to act in compliance with sanctions. Users of OpenSea, one of the biggest NFT marketplaces, complained about the deactivation of their accounts. Some of the affected artists claimed to be from Iran.
OpenSea later confirmed that users from areas sanctioned by the United States were unable to access its platform. An OpenSea spokesperson maintained that the NFT marketplace had zero tolerance for users in sanctioned countries.
Most Iranian NFT artists bemoaned the supposed breach of trust. Some said OpenSea had posed as a decentralized platform when, in essence, it acted as a centralized marketplace.
What you are doing to us artists is even way worse that what they have done to us. Cause you assume you are a decentralized platform. If you don’t care about the Iranian artists, fine. At least care about our NON IRANIAN collectors.
— Parin (@ParinHeidari) March 3, 2022
How Decentralized is Metamask?
The recent trend of events has left a scar on crypto users. It raised the question of “how decentralized is Metamask?.” Metamask has been at the forefront of Web3 adoption. Most users believed it to be a safe haven from sanctions. But, users were alarmed over the power the digital wallet has to cut off users from certain regions from their services.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked decentralization concerns. Also, US politicians intend to monitor the crypto space. They believe Russia will likely use the crypto space to navigate its sanctions. However, crypto users expect platforms like Metamask to make decisions based on popular opinions amongst their users.
Users from the affected regions were able to access Metamask by using VPNs. However, some believe that a worse scenario could play out. For example, a user suggested that Metamask might begin raids on individual IP addresses. These concerns come as the world expects Russia and other regions to face heavier sanctions.
If Metamask/Infura is open and willing to block countries like Venezuela by IP addresses, it's only a matter of time until they are forced by regulators to censor individual people's IP addresses. We need alternatives immediately, hoping that Alchemy and others don't do this
— Larry Cermak (@lawmaster) March 3, 2022
Most users have expressed their desire to seek a safer alternative to Metamask. They believe the digital wallet is not centralized and poses a risk to their assets.
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