NGO praises Mastercard for trying to curb illegal pornography

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The National Center on Sexual Exploitation praised the credit card association Mastercard for implementing new policies to curb illegal pornography.

In an April 14 blog post, Mastercard announced its new requirement that banks connecting merchants to its network certify that pornography sites are blocking illegal content.

“This month, we are extending our existing Specialty Merchant Registration requirements,” Mastercard stated. “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.”

Mastercard will now require that people who are depicted in pornography, as well as those who are uploading it, will have documented their age and identity. Furthermore, all content must be reviewed by merchants prior to it being published. 

Mastercard is also mandating that, in the event of illegal content being posted online, merchants have a plan in place to address complaints and remove illegal content within a week, along with establishing an “appeals process” if a participant wants the content removed. 

Pornhub, one of the most popular pornography websites, has been sued for keeping illegal content - including child pornography and video of sexual assault - on its website. Mastercard cut ties with Pornhub in December 2020. 

“We’re committed to doing everything in our power to ensure only lawful activity takes place on our network,” Mastercard said. “In the process, we also hope to improve content controls to benefit people with the greatest need for these protections.”

The NCOSE praised Mastercard for “listening to survivors and rejecting profits gained from sexual abuse and exploitation.”

“Mastercard is setting a standard for the entire payment processing industry to curtail weaknesses criminal networks have to-date used with impunity. Visa and Discover must follow this example,” said NCOSE CEO Dawn Hawkins.

“Given the criminal content on sites like Pornhub, and with payment processing companies like Mastercard creating new stringent requirements, it is hard to fathom how pornography tube sites continue to exist in their current state,” said Hawkins. She is urging the government to “follow Mastercard’s example towards confronting horrific abuses on pornography tube sites.”

The organization in February released its annual list of the worst contributors to sexual exploitation online. Among the “Dirty Dozen” contributors were Amazon, Netflix, Chromebooks, and Twitter.

The credit card association Visa was among the companies that had made improvements in 2020 on its record on sexual exploitation, but it remained on the NCOSE watchlist for some concerning practices.

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