Visa Funded Alleged Pornhub / MindGeek Child Porn, Rules Judge

In a setback for Visa in a case alleging the payment processor is liable for the distribution of child pornography on Pornhub and other sites operated by parent company MindGeek, a federal judge ruled that it was reasonable to conclude that Visa knowingly facilitated the criminal activity.

On Friday, July 29, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney of the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California issued a decision in the Fleites v. MindGeek case, denying Visa’s motion to dismiss the claim it violated California’s Unfair Competition Law — which prohibits unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business acts and practices — by processing payments for child porn. (A copy of the decision is available at this link.)

In the ruling, Carney held that the plaintiff “adequately alleged” that Visa engaged in a criminal conspiracy with MindGeek to monetize child pornography. Specifically, he wrote, “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”; and that “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.”

 

 

“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 plaintiff will suffer the harms that plaintiff alleges,” Carney wrote.

In a statement, a Visa spokesperson said: “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 rep for MindGeek provided this statement: “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.”

The company’s statement continued, “We have banned uploads from anyone who has not submitted government-issued ID that passes third-party verification, eliminated the ability to download free content, integrated several leading technological platform 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] Policies to help protect against removed videos being reposted, expanded our moderation workforce and processes, and partnered with dozens of non-profit organizations around the world. Any insinuation that MindGeek does not take the elimination of illegal material seriously is categorically false.”

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Source: Visa ‘Intended to Help’ Pornhub, MindGeek Monetize Child Porn: Ruling – Variety

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