Visa strikes deal to tackle e-porn

Visa has turned to an online brand protection company to prevent the use of its services by illegal pornography websites.

The company is working with an unnamed US specialist with links to UK-based IBNet. IBNet uses a mixture of software and manpower to scan the Internet for key words and phrases. When it spots offending material, it reports it to the client.

Visa’s US partner is understood to have given IBNet a licence to mystery shop at e-porn sites offering the Visa payment method. These merchants are then blacklisted by Visa.

Visa is believed to be particularly uncomfortable about the use of its service by some of the so-called “Lolita” websites, which feature under-age sex. Many of the companies behind these sites have links to the Mafia and drug barons.

The company’s decision to weed out such sites suggests a new chapter in e-commerce: until now, illegal porn sites seem to have attracted more attention from governments and police authorities than from credit card companies.

But with mounting competition for e-commerce payment methods, the established global payment brands appear to be stepping up surveillance. A Visa UK spokeswoman says: “We take this area very seriously and have some stringent measures to tackle abuse of our name online. We don’t tolerate child pornography.”

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