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.
Other requirements will include "documented age and identity verification for all people depicted and those uploading the content; content review process prior to publication; complaint resolution process that addresses illegal or nonconsensual content within seven business days; and appeals process allowing for any person depicted to request their content be removed." 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.