On October 15th 2021, MasterCard will start implementing their new policy that directly effects sex workers, the LGBTQ community, sex educators, and erotic content creators of all sorts.
While sold as common sense “ID check” reforms, MasterCard’s new standards would require individuals who produce erotic content or engage in the sexuality sector to jump through a number of hoops in order to qualify for MasterCard services, drastically increasing surveillance of marginalized groups and chilling expression across the internet as a whole. These new standards endanger sex workers by decreasing the anonymity that keeps sex workers safe, and fails the lower income community who can not afford to produce new technology processes.
The explicitly stated intention behind the new policy is to prevent material that includes human trafficking or minors from being spread around online. While this may be a good intention, the execution is not an effective method. This is likely because MasterCard crafted these policies with anti-LGBTQ+ ministries Exodus Cry and NCOSE, instead of stakeholders that create adult content to survive.
In fact, there are many policies that have this intention that have actually led to more dangerous conditions for people who are victims of human trafficking. Experts have said these MasterCard policies will have an impact that mirrors that of SESTA, as this creates banking liability for consensual sexual discussion in the same manner SESTA created criminal and civil court liability.
When it comes down to it, all this policy will do is protect every other non-sex worker individual and company that profits off sex work from any potential liabilities, not protect actual abuse survivors. As such, the amount of harm that the new policy would cause to marginalized groups is inexcusable.
We are also highly concerned about news that MasterCard has timed this policy to the Australian government proposing policies that include MasterCard as a potential age check partner themselves – it seems that MasterCard may have found a way to de-platform vulnerable workers while continuing to profit by mandatory government required age checks.
MasterCard is not the only online financial institution to discriminate against sex workers, but based on a history of other companies following along, policy could lead to a snowball effect. And any platform that takes even a small number of MasterCard transactions will need to comply.
As a result, a grassroots effort of over 200 sex workers and LGBTQ advocates have put together a campaign to combat this discrimination. Their demands include suspending the new MasterCard policy that is suppose to take effect on October 15th, for new policies to be centered around survivors, and for sex workers to be included as stakeholders, among others!
At our organization, we believe that the stakeholder demand for a pause is a reasonable first step, even just on the basis of the religious organizations that passed this policy to MasterCard having a documented history of negative remarks concerning the communities the policy will impact. We support the workers in this ask, and join them in asking MasterCard to pause their plans so they can be studied with stakeholders, not people looking to hurt stakeholders.
To learn more and see how you can help, click here: