OpenSea Bars Iranian Users as US Sanctions Talk Ramps Up

Twitter users complained about their accounts being deactivated without notice.

AccessTimeIconMar 3, 2022 at 5:59 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 4, 2022 at 4:53 a.m. UTC

Eli is a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.

OpenSea users with Iran-based internet protocol addresses are claiming their accounts were terminated on Thursday in what is developing into a larger discussion about international sanctions and popular Web 3 platforms.

Multiple users took to Twitter with screenshots showing their account history had been deleted, and users who manage verified collections have reported those collections have been removed.

“OpenSea blocks users and territories on the U.S. sanctions list from using our services, including buying, selling, or transferring NFTs on OpenSea,” a representative of the marketplace told CoinDesk in a statement. “If we find individuals to be in violation of our sanctions policy, we take swift action to ban the associated accounts.”

The U.S. sanctions in question are against the Iranian government, which prevent U.S. companies from providing goods or services to any user based in Iran. OpenSea is a U.S. company headquartered in New York and incorporated in Delaware.

Policymakers have taken a renewed interest in crypto companies' compliance with sanctions amid the Russia-Ukraine war. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) asked Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell about that during a Senate committee hearing Thursday, asking whether crypto could be used to undermine sanctions.

"Chair Powell, obviously you do not administer sanctions, but you are an expert on the international financial system. Are other countries currently using cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions? I'm thinking here of North Korea, Iran, Venezuela," she said.

Powell said he's "read that those things happen."

This isn’t the first time the cryptocurrency industry has gone up against a gray area of sanctions laws – Ethereum software company ConsenSys unexpectedly barred a group of Iranian students from its coding academy back in November citing similar restrictions.

UPDATE (March 3, 2022, 18:15 UTC): Adds additional context.

UPDATE (March 3, 2022, 20:45 UTC): Adds statement from OpenSea.

DISCLOSURE

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Eli is a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Eli is a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.

Trending

1
CoinDesk - Unknown
Blockchain.com, Deribit Among Creditors That Pushed for 3AC Liquidation: Report

Blockchain.com has also said it is cooperating with ongoing investigations into the hedge fund, which "defrauded the crypto industry."

CoinDesk - Unknown
2
CoinDesk - Unknown
El Salvador Purchases 80 Additional Bitcoin at $19K, President Bukele Says

The last purchase by the Central American country had been in May.

CoinDesk - Unknown
3
CoinDesk - Unknown
VanEck Files New Application for Spot Bitcoin ETF

The application comes about eight months after the SEC rejected the investment firm’s last application.

CoinDesk - Unknown
4
CoinDesk - Unknown
First Mover Asia: Speculating on Tokenized Carbon Offsets Won't Help Climate Crisis, Says Consultant; BTC Falls Under $19K Amid Wider Crypto Woes

A significant number of carbon credits are from projects 8-10 years old; Ether and other major altcoins plummet.

CoinDesk - Unknown