EFF Warns Against Giving Credit Cards 'Censorship Power'

EFF Warns Against Giving Credit Cards 'Censorship Power'

SAN FRANCISCO — Prominent digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published an editorial yesterday warning about the censorship power of credit card companies, after Visa and Mastercard cut off Pornhub from their payment networks.

“Pornhub is removing millions of user-uploaded videos,” wrote the EFF’s Danny O’Brien and Rainey Reitman. “This action comes after a New York Times column accused the website of hosting sexual videos of underage and non-consenting women. In response to the Times’ article, Visa and Mastercard cut ties with Pornhub, making it impossible for Pornhub to process payments other than through cryptocurrencies.”

“Sexual exploitation is a scourge on society that needs resources, education, victim support, and, when necessary, prosecution by responsible authorities to address,” wrote O’Brien and Reitman. “Visa and Mastercard are the wrong entities for addressing these problems. Visa and Mastercard do not have the skills, expertise or position to determine complex issues of digital speech. Nuanced challenges to what content should exist online, and whether moderation policies will inadvertently punish otherwise marginalized voices, are issues that legal experts, human rights experts, lawmakers and courts in the United States and abroad have been deeply considering for years.”

According to the EFF’s editorial, “navigating speech policies in a way that won’t shut down huge swaths of legitimate and worthy speech is hard. And it’s wrong that Visa and Mastercard have the power to —however clumsily — police speech online.”

“More importantly, as a society, we haven’t given Visa and Mastercard the authority to decide online speech cases,” O’Brien and Reiman added. “Those companies haven’t been elected or chosen by any electorate in any country. They are here enforcing speech rules that we haven’t adopted in the United States — and, frankly, which would likely violate the U.S. Constitution if they were adopted.”

The EFF editorial concludes by asking “those praising Mastercard and Visa’s actions” to recognize that “these censorship powers are more often used against those without power. That should scare all of us.”

To read the EFF editorial “Visa and Mastercard are Trying to Dictate What You Can Watch on Pornhub,” visit EFF.org.

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