Recently, both MasterCard and Visa closed ranks and terminated payment services to major classified ads website backpage.com. The move comes after the payment providers were pressured by Cook County, Illinois Sheriff Tom Dart to cease payments due to allegations of illegal activity being undertaken on backpage.com
Backpage General Counsel Liz McDougall responded to the Huffington Post
, stating that they worked with law enforcement to deter any such activity.
The effects of this action were not restricted to the US. Here in Australia, local Aussies conducting a legitimate business have effectively been cut off from their advertising stream due to the actions of an Illinois sheriff. Of course Visa and MasterCard are private companies and as such have the right to take this action if they see fit.
Backpage is offering bitcoin as a payment method and this situation serves to hi-light the power of the digital currency, which is not controlled by any central authority and therefore cannot be arbitrarily blocked in this manner.
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