Money and moral guardians

Enrique Dans. Professor. IE Business School

30 July 2013

The increase in mobility in Spain’s universities, on both a national and international scale, is the ideal scenario in which to create professionals who are willing to change their place of residence to take up a professional challenge.

 

VISA and MasterCard, the most widely used methods of payment in the world, announced this week that they would stop accepting payments made to providers of Virtual Private Networks  (VPN)s, for data anonymization or coding services. Companies who wish to offer such services and the clients who wish to obtain them will have to use less comfortable forms of payment, which could translate into a drop the number of clients, or could even affect the company’s viability.

What has led to Visa and MasterCard’s attack on these companies? Fear of monitoring and surveillance of the movements of people on the internet by governments like that of the US have led more users to pay for the use of a VPN. For forty to sixty euros per year you can get a coded and secure connection which might even permit you to choose your node and country. A VPN, for example, is what I use when I teach at Chinese universities. Thus there is no risk of examples being used in my classes being blocked (and I have never, over many years, had any problem when I have shown a supposedly prohibited page in a Chinese university). I also use a VPN to see what my page looks like when seen from other countries. Or simply to protect my privacy, which is a fundamental right.

Is it licit and reasonable for a method of payment to act as the moral guardian of my money, by forbidding me to pay for a completely legal service, and obliging me to expose myself to the surveillance of the National Security Agency of the US government? I can use my VISA or MasterCard to make a donation to the Ku Klux Klan (provided I am of pure white race, of course), to pay for child prostitution services, but not to protect my privacy on the internet.

The obsession with control has now definitely gone beyond all acceptable limits. 

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