MasterCard and Visa have supported a move to censor advertisements in the adult section of classified ad website Backpage.com.
The credit card companies will now longer allow their card to be used for payment for such adverts.
The move comes after a sheriff in Cook County, Illinois named Thomas Dart requested that both credit companies sever ties with the site. He cites for reasons of supposed trafficking but no doubt the basis is a moral judgement against adult services.
Update: Censored by MasterCard even when the service is legal
3rd July 2015. See article
Thosusands of Australian sex workers say their legitimate business is being brought to a grinding halt by censorship by credit card companies instigated by a US county sherriff.
Mastercard has announced it was implementing a worldwide ban on customers placing adult ads on Backpage.com, an online classified advertising marketplace used widely by sex workers to promote their services.
The site has long come under fire from moralist in the US, where sex work is illegal in most states, for promoting prostitution. But the censorship still applies even where legal.
The Scarlet Alliance, which speaks on behalf of Australian sex workers, said Backpage.com was the primary source of clientele for many local sex workers.
Brisbane sex worker Nikki Cox said she was angry and upset about Mastercard's decision. She said:
We have fought long and hard in this country to have the rights that we do.
For a sheriff in the USA to come along and appeal to have credit card companies remove the option of using our card to pay for advertising services is a badly thought out decision on his behalf.
This is fine for the USA where sex work is illegal in 49 states but it should not have a rollover effect in Australia.
Scarlet Alliance CEO Janelle Fawkes went one step further, accusing Mastercard of discrimination.
We have anti-discrimination protection for sex workers in some parts of Australia, and much of that legislation is framed around treating sex workers differently and disadvantaging them.
This is very specifically singling out and discriminating against sex workers, which is absolutely unacceptable.
Sex workers are part of the community and are earning a legitimate income like everyone else, and they have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.
Update: Free listings
20th July 2015. See article
The online classified web site Backpage.com, long used by sex workers as a low-cost means of advertising their services and screening clients, has announced that it is allowing users to post ads for free to the adult services section of its site.
Backpage has been sending e-mails to users of the adult services section of the site informing them that they could use free promo code FREESPEECH until their payment situation was resolved to post ads.
Advertisers can also still use bitcoin to pay for ads, and the company recently began allowing users to pay for credits that could be used to post ads. The credits can be purchased by money order, check or cash mailed to a P.O. Box in Dallas.