Savannah Hulsey Pointer, FISM News
A U.S. district judge has ruled that there is reasonable evidence to support the case that Visa could be liable for the distribution of child pornography on Pornhub.
U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney of the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California ruled against Visa’s motion to dismiss the claim that the credit card company worked with Pornhub, whose parent company is MindGeek, to knowingly facilitate the criminal acts, according to Variety.
The decision came in the Fleites v. MindGeek case, which claims that MindGeek violated California’s Unfair Competition Law prohibiting unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business acts and practices when they processed payments for child porn.
A Visa spokesperson said in a statement that “Visa condemns sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child sexual abuse materials as repugnant to our values and purpose as a company,” according to Variety. “This pre-trial ruling is disappointing and mischaracterizes Visa’s role and its policies and practices. Visa will not tolerate the use of our network for illegal activity. We continue to believe that Visa is an improper defendant in this case.”
However, Carney held that the plaintiff “adequately alleged” that Visa was involved in a criminal conspiracy with MindGeek that intentionally monetized child pornography.
The judge stated in his decision, “Visa knew that MindGeek’s websites were teeming with monetized child porn”; that there was a “criminal agreement to financially benefit from child porn that can be inferred from [Visa’s] decision to continue to recognize MindGeek as a merchant despite allegedly knowing that MindGeek monetized a substantial amount of child porn.”
“The court can comfortably infer that Visa intended to help MindGeek monetize child porn” by “knowingly provid[ing] the tool used to complete the crime,” Judge Carney added.
“When MindGeek decides to monetize child porn, and Visa decides to continue to allow its payment network to be used for that goal despite knowledge of MindGeek’s monetization of child porn, it is entirely foreseeable that victims of child porn like [the] plaintiff will suffer the harms that [the] plaintiff alleges.
A representative for MindGeek also offered a statement to Variety saying, “At this point in the case, the court has not yet ruled on the veracity of the allegations, and is required to assume all of the plaintiff’s allegations are true and accurate. When the court can actually consider the facts, we are confident the plaintiff’s claims will be dismissed for lack of merit. MindGeek has zero tolerance for the posting of illegal content on its platforms, and has instituted the most comprehensive safeguards in user-generated platform history.”
“We have banned uploads from anyone who has not submitted a government-issued ID that passes third-party verification, eliminated the ability to download free content, integrated several leading technological platform[s] and content moderation tools, instituted digital fingerprinting of all videos found to be in violation of our Non-Consensual Content and CSAM [child sexual abuse material],” MindGeek’s statement continued. “Any insinuation that MindGeek does not take the elimination of illegal material seriously is categorically false.”