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Mastercard Confronts Abuse and Sexual Exploitation on Pornography Websites with New Policy

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Advocates against the multibillion-dollar porn industry had reason to celebrate last week after Mastercard introduced a new policy to address criminal content on pornography websites.

According to an April 14 blog post on Mastercard’s website, the company has decided to institute new rules on banks that process payments for such sites.

“The banks that connect merchants to our network will need to certify that the seller of adult content has effective controls in place to monitor, block and, where necessary, take down all illegal content,” senior vice president John Verdeschi wrote.

Mastercard will also require banks to ensure that pornography websites verify the age and identity of individuals depicted in or uploading content. In addition, banks will need to ensure that sellers only post sexually explicit material after obtaining consent from the people depicted.

Other updated standards for banks include verifying the websites have a complaint resolution process to address illegal, nonconsensual content within seven business days and an appeals process for victims to request the removal of content featuring them.

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Explaining the reason for the latest policy change, Verdeschi noted how “the ability to upload content to the internet has become easier than ever.”

According to Mastercard, the new requirements are intended to “address the risks associated with this activity. And that starts with strong content control measures and clear, unambiguous and documented consent.”

“The evolution of our registration programs is critical to ensure that we — as well as those who connect merchants to our network — understand who we are doing business with and what can be expected of their activities,” Verdeschi wrote.

“We’re committed to doing everything in our power to ensure only lawful activity takes place on our network.

Should other credit card companies follow Mastercard's lead?

“In the process, we also hope to improve content controls to benefit people with the greatest need for these protections.”

Laila Mickelwait, the founder of the activist group Traffickinghub, commended Mastercard’s new policy measures the same day the company announced the changes. Mickelwait’s Traffickinghub campaign works to hold pornographic websites and their executives accountable for profiting from the “mass sex-trafficking and exploitation of women and minors.”

While the advocate praised Mastercard for taking steps to prevent further abuse, she called on other credit companies to take action.

“BREAKING: Mastercard has enacted new rules that will cut off payment processing to all porn ‘tube’ sites IF they don’t VERIFY the AGE & CONSENT of EVERY INDIVIDUAL in every video,” Mickelwait tweeted Wednesday.

“This is a huge step to prevent abuse. @Visa must follow. #Traffickinghub.”

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This is not the first time Mastercard responded to a scandal surrounding pornography websites hosting illegal content, however.

In December, both Mastercard and Visa barred the use of their company’s cards on Pornhub following a damning report on the website from writer Nicholas Kristof.

According to a report Kristof wrote for The New York Times, “[Pornhub] monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags.”

Mastercard’s recent decision goes even further than the one from December, as it will bar the use of its card on any pornography website that does not follow its new company guidelines.

It remains to be seen if other companies will follow suit by implementing measures that would hold pornography websites accountable for posting illegal and explicit content.

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Samantha Kamman is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. She has been published in several media outlets, including Live Action News and the Washington Examiner.
Samantha Kamman is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. She has been published in several media outlets, including Live Action News and the Washington Examiner.




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