Skip to main content

Financial access to the internet being lost by Greece

On June 29, Greece put capital controls (limits withdrawals from bank accounts) and set a cap on withdrawals from ATMs at €60 per day.

Since that day it people and businesses have started to lose access to things that most of us take for granted. One of the major losses is access to certain internet services with the likes of iTunes, PayPal, cloud storage services, app stores, etc. This has come about because Greek subscribers are not able to send any money out of the country due to the ongoing financial crisis.

Although access to iTunes may seem a trivial inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, this does raise a very large problem, and that is how centralised the internet is. By this I mean that most internet services are hosted in one country, and more often that not, this won't be in your country.

It is not that people don't have the money to pay for the services, it is just the issue of where that service, for example iTunes in America is being hosted. Due to the financial restrictions on Greek credit and debit cards, it means that any payment, even €0.99 for song is money leaving Greece.

The another problem the Greeks are being faced with is the inability to renew their cloud stroage subscriptions, because the regualr monthly payments to Apple, Google or Dropbox are being cut off, and others arent able to use PayPal to send money or make payments to people outside of Greece. Another cruel twist is that those in Greece wishing to send money to another person in Greece via the service is unable to to do so, again, because of where the service is being hosted from.

Other money transfer companies such as Western union and Money Gram had completely stopped operating last week, but they have started functioning this week. Though people still cannot send money outside the country, they can still receive money from other countries.

The last time that capital controls were imposed was in Iceland in 2008, and back then business and the population were largely less reliant on cloud storage and due partly to the cold climate, had already built up plenty of data centres of its own