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Federal judge: Visa knowingly helped Pornhub ‘monetize child porn’ and sex trafficking

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Visa have been hit with a legal setback after a federal judge on Friday ruled that Visa was complicit in helping Pornhub “monetize child porn” and sex trafficking.

Judge Cormac Carney dismissed Visa’s motion to be removed as a defendant in the lawsuit on the grounds that Visa “knowingly provid[ed] the tool used to complete the crime,” of distributing pornographic material that involved children.

Bill Ackman, who is a hedge fund manager, also launched a scathing attack on Visa by saying they did not use their available authority to force Pornhub’s hand to remove child porn from their site.

“My interest comes from the fact that I have four daughters,” Ackman said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “When you think about the worst harm — economic, physical, mental harm you can impact upon a human being — it’s having a child trafficked … video of the rape appear. I find it hard to talk about it.”

“Remarkably, the company, despite being entirely aware that there’s child pornography on these sites, they continue to provide payment services, until the Kristoff article, and then they shut down the sites overnight which would have bankrupted them,” Ackman added. “Within a matter of weeks they re-authorized the merchants and started accepting payments again and the crime continues.” Ackman said he has no financial interests in any payment company.

The lawsuit was filed by a woman who had a sexually explicit video of her taken by her boyfriend when she was 13.

Carney said in his ruling that “Visa made the decision to continue to recognize MindGeek as a merchant, despite its alleged knowledge that MindGeek monetized child porn. MindGeek made the decision to continue monetizing child porn, and there are enough facts pled to suggest that the latter decision depended on the former.”

A spokesperson for Visa spoke to CNBC and said that the company strongly condemns sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and any other form of child sex abuse.

“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,” the spokesperson said. “We continue to believe that Visa is an improper defendant in this case.” 

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