Mastercard Inc. is updating the requirements it sets for banks that process payments for sellers of adult content.
The banks will now have to ensure that sellers require “clear, unambiguous and documented consent” in adult content, the payments network said in a blog post Wednesday. The firms will also be required to ensure websites document the age and verify the identity of anyone depicted in pictures and videos as well as those uploading the content.
“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,” John Verdeschi, Mastercard’s senior vice president of customer engagement and performance, said in the post.
Mastercard is also requiring banks to ensure that sites have a review process prior to any content being published, as well as a system for complaints that addresses illegal or non-consensual activity within seven business days. The payments network is also mandating that banks make sure that sites have an appeals process that allows for anyone depicted in adult videos or photos to request that the content be removed.
The moves come after Mastercard in December said it would no longer allow its cards to be used on Pornhub.com after a review of the website uncovered unlawful content. Both Mastercard and rival Visa Inc had begun looking into Pornhub after a New York Times column accused the website of distributing videos depicting child abuse and non-consensual violence.
“In the past few years, the ability to upload content to the internet has become easier than ever,” Verdeschi said. “All someone needs is a smartphone and a Wi-Fi connection. Now, our requirements address the risks associated with this activity.”
Mastercard has long prohibited merchants from engaging in unlawful activity on its network. The firm has previously forged partnerships with groups including Interpol and the national and international centers for missing and exploited children.
“We’re committed to doing everything in our power to ensure only lawful activity takes place on our network,” Verdeschi said. “In the process, we also hope to improve content controls to benefit people with the greatest need for these protections.”By
Mastercard Now Requires ‘Documented Consent’ From Adult Sites
The announcement comes after major payment processors cut ties with Pornhub.
Mastercard just changed its rules for adult sites, announcing that it will require “clear, unambiguous and documented consent” for content on all of the platforms using it as a payment processor.
The company announced the new rules in a blog post on Wednesday. “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,” John Verdeschi, Mastercard’s senior vice president of customer engagement and performance, wrote.
The company blamed smartphones and fast Wi-Fi that make uploading images easy—which have been around for at least a decade—for making this change now. But payment processors have a long history of discrimination and hostility toward sex work.
The latest major example of this kind of discrimination came in December, when Visa, Mastercard, and Discover all revoked services from Pornhub following claims about sex trafficking on the platform from a New York Times opinion piece that’s been used by anti-porn extremists to further their message against the adult industry. This decision to cut off Pornhub hurt many of the performers using the platform as a source of income. When platforms go down or stop allowing adult content, it inevitably puts the people using those sites at more risk for exploitation.
Since December, Pornhub has enacted stricter rules around what gets uploaded, and is working with third party organizations to keep non-consensual and child abuse imagery off the platform. While PayPal, Square, Stripe and Apple Pay haven’t allowed merchants to use their services to pay for firearms for years, last year Mastercard was the branded card for Cabelas, a store that sells an array of assault weapons.
It’s not clear from Verdeschi’s announcement how the company plans to treat the many social media and retail websites that work with Mastercard and sell adult content, but aren’t strictly “adult sites,” such as Amazon or Etsy.
Mastercard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.By