Allegations against online pornography site Pornhub being investigated by MasterCard

MasterCard says it is investigating allegations claiming the popular online pornography website Pornhub allows child sexual abuse materials on its site.

A statement from MasterCard, which currently allows payments for the site’s offerings, says it is working with the company’s Montreal-based parent firm Mindgeek to understand the situation.

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The statement says MasterCard has zero tolerance for illegal activity on its network and works with law enforcement and other groups to detect and prevent illegal transactions.

Pornhub attracts billions of monthly visits for videos, some of which a New York Times investigation alleges involve child sexual assaults and exploitations.

Pornhub replied to the allegations on Friday, calling them irresponsible and flagrantly untrue and saying it has no tolerance for child sexual abuse materials on its site.

MasterCard says if the claims are substantiated, it will take immediate action.

“When we identify illegal activity, our policy is to ask the acquirer to terminate the relationship, unless an effective compliance plan is put in place,” the company said in a statement released Sunday.

PayPal stopped payment services to Pornhub last year, while American Express said it has a long-standing policy that prevents card acceptance on adult content websites.

Visa didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prime Minister said on Friday that the federal government was working with police and security agencies to address sex trafficking and child pornography.

A group of Canadian members of Parliament and senators sent an open letter to Justice Minister David Lametti last month asking for government action against Pornhub and Mindgeek, alleging the companies host and profit from sex crimes.

“Over the past two years, Mindgeek has received international attention due to the real exploitation of women and minors featured in some of the content that they publish and sell on Pornhub and other subsidiary websites,” said the letter signed by four senators and 16 members of Parliament.

Pornhub said in an email statement Friday that the company uses extensive measures to keep illegal content off the platform and uses a “vast team” of human moderators to manually review each upload and remove illegal material, along with automated detection technologies.

It said “ridding the internet of child sexual abuse material is one of the most crucial issues facing online platforms today, and it requires the unwavering commitment and collective action of all parties.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2020.

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