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Credit card firms warned over illegal images

Labour MP, Geraint Davies, believes not enough is being done to stop people using cards to get access to sites hosting illegal images.

Almost 40 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling on the government to bring forward laws, similar to those in the US, to penalise card providers if their products are involved in such activity.

Davies will raise this issue in the House of Commons tomorrow.  He recommends that a law is implemented which forces credit card companies to block card transactions online if they use certain sites or particular keywords.

He suggests a fine of around £10,000 for every transaction they fail to block.  He says “such action will make it difficult for would-be viewers of child pornography to gain access, thus reducing financial momentum of child abuse.  Credit card companies potentially make enormous profits through these degrading transactions”.

According to research by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), around 49% of illegal images are found on paid for sites, the rest are on free community pages.  Last year the IWF reported 8,844 websites containing sexual abuse content but very few of them originated in the UK.

Visa Europe (a founding member of the Child Exploitation and Online  Protection Centre), already uses advanced internet search technology to scan the web for potentially illegal sites which say they accept Visa cards.

A Visa spokesperson said, “Wherever we find a site offering such material for sale via Visa payment cards, we alert our banks and the law enforcement agencies.  Our rules stipulate clearly that our member bank must terminate the acquiring contract with these merchants.”

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