Judge refuses to remove Visa from Pornhub case on child porn

·Contributing Writer
·2 min read
LIONEL BONAVENTURE via Getty Images

A federal judge refused to remove Visa from a lawsuit that alleges it aided MindGeek — the parent company of Pornhub — in monetizing child porn. In a decision issued on July 29th, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney accuses the payment processor of refusing to cut business ties with MindGeek, despite being aware that Pornhub and other MindGeek-owned pornography sites distributed child pornography. The lawsuit was filed by a woman whose underage videos were posted on Pornhub without her permission.

“If Visa was aware that there was a substantial amount of child porn on MindGeek’s sites, which the Court must accept as true at this stage of the proceedings, then it was aware that it was processing the monetization of child porn, moving money from advertisers to MindGeek for advertisements playing alongside child porn like Plaintiff’s videos,” wrote Judge Carney.

Visa has argued that it is an “improper defendant” in the case and does not tolerate illegal activity. “Visa condemns sex trafficking, sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse materials as repugnant to our values and purpose as a company. 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,” a Visa spokesperson wrote in a statement to Variety.

Pornhub and other MindGeek-owned porn sites regularly feature nonconsensual or underage porn videos, according to recent reporting in both the New Yorker and the New York Times. MindGeek has maintained that it has protocols in place to prevent the posting and reposting of such illegal material on its site. In 2020, MindGeek banned all unverified users from posting on its sites and removed millions of uploaded videos in the aftermath. In order to post on any MindGeek properties, a user must submit their government ID to a third-party firm and verify their identity.

“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,” a MindGeek spokesperson wrote to Variety.

The Montreal-based company has been in disarray following years of media attention over what critics believe is a flawed moderation process that allows illegal content to thrive on its porn sites. Both the CEO and COO of MindGeek abruptly resigned in June. The company also laid off an unspecified number of employees this summer.

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