Credit card companies face criticism
on 24/09/2012 00:00:00
In 2004, pressure on the financial institutions reached a crescendo when Portuguese research showed there were 66 sites on the internet on which you can buy a child with a credit card.
The then vice-president of the European Parliament's Women's Rights Committee, Marianne Erikkson, said: "You cannot buy illegal drugs on the internet. It should be mission impossible to buy child pornography on the internet. The credit card companies must end their role in this."
In recent years, the credit card companies have strongly defended their position. A spokesman for Visa said the company deplored "the commercial exploitation of child abuse images and we do not allow Visa cards - debit, credit, or prepaid - to be used to buy child pornography. Wherever we find a site offering such material for sale via Visa payment cards, we alert our banks and the law enforcement agencies. Our rules stipulate clearly that our member bank must terminate the acquiring contract with these merchants. We also work with law enforcement to assist in the arrest of the criminals."
Visa said that since 2002 it had been using "advanced internet search technology" to scan the web to find sites displaying the Visa logo and selling child abuse imagery.
"Whenever we find a site offering such material for sale via Visa cards, we alert our member banks and law enforcement agencies," it said.
MasterCard said it had very strict rules that helped prevent its cards from being used to purchase illegal material like child pornography.
"MasterCard works very closely together with our customers to ensure compliance with the rules and legislation. Additionally, MasterCard conducts ongoing monitoring to ensure that our rules and legislation are not being circumvented. When incidents are detected MasterCard ensures that access to our payment system is terminated.
"Unfortunately, all of these valiant efforts have not completely eliminated the sexual exploitation of children and sale of child pornography. However, MasterCard and its coalition partners will continue to fight against a common enemy and prevent criminals from exploiting those who need our protection the most."
Both firms said they were involved in international networks that aimed to prevent child pornography.