Jun 06 2006

Banks, credit cards join fight against online child pornography

Dayton Daily News

By John Nolan

Banks and credit card companies have been enlisted to put the squeeze on people who use credit cards to buy or sell child pornography on the Internet.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which already runs a cyber tip line for public help in tracking down Web sites that offer child porn content, said it welcomes the help banks and credit card companies can offer.

The companies can block the use of their credit cards to pay for child porn, restricting the flow of money that the Web sites count on, said Michelle Collins, director of the center's exploited-child unit in Alexandria, Va.

Cooperation between financial companies can help in the fight against porn-promoting Web sites, which can be taken down and relocated before law enforcement can find them, Collins said.

The porn online providers typically charge customers monthly subscription fees of anywhere from $29 to $79 to $300 or more, Collins said.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., which operates the former Bank One offices in the Miami Valley region, is among the banks involved in the porn-fighting effort.

Spokesmen for KeyBank and Fifth Third Bancorp, owner of Fifth Third Bank, said their companies haven't been asked to participate, but would work with law enforcement or with Visa and MasterCard, the brands on bank-issued credit cards, as cooperation is required.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee who helped organize the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography, has said the participants include America Online, Yahoo! Inc., American Express Co., Bank of America, Citigroup, Discover Financial Services LLC, First Data Corp., Microsoft Corp., PayPal, Wells Fargo, First National Bank of Omaha and North American Bancard.