On October 15, the careers of thousands of adult performers will be wiped out. Every bit of our performing existence will disappear. We’re proud of who we are, and the legacy we’ve created, so the question we are all asking Mastercard is, why?
Mastercard announced that it would require, “The banks that connect merchants to our network… to certify that the seller of adult content has effective controls in place to monitor, block and, where necessary, take down all illegal content.” These controls include:
- Documented age and identity verification for all people depicted and those uploading the content
- Content review process prior to publication
- Complaint resolution process that addresses illegal or nonconsensual content within seven business days
- Appeals process allowing for any person depicted to request their content be removed
As responsible adult creators, we have been following the guidelines set forth by the U.S. government since 1995. As you know, production companies are required to maintain 2257 documents. When these guidelines were created, the federal government ruled that content created prior to the enforcement of 2257 would be exempt. However, your upcoming regulations threaten to supersede the government ruling that verified creators have been following for 26 years thereby creating a law on their own, without any input from the very community it oppresses. The requirement of updating identification on scenes filmed in the past means that once a performer’s identification on file expires, the entire scene or film they appeared in must be removed.
Content creators and performers invest their earnings to establish businesses in hopes of building their brands—in the same manner any company would. As the wages in this country became stagnant, many workers turned to the adult industry to care for their families and themselves. A large portion of our workers come from marginalized communities, and your pending regulations augment the occupational discrimination we face.
We understand your intentions are to help protect our community from trafficking and abuse, however, some of the pending changes may actually force law-abiding, tax-paying workers into situations of potential trafficking. By forcing the removal of outdated content, which falls outside the scope of federal regulations, our workers would lose their incomes. Many have already faced removal from platforms, content deleted, and income taken away as companies begin to follow your new rules. As the president of the federally recognized union for adult workers, Adult Performance Artists Guild, I have received numerous reports of workers being removed and having no way to pay the bills because their income was taken away. Your pending regulations are already taking their toll, and we are afraid of what the future will bring.
Given the vague description included in your upcoming regulations, many mainstream Hollywood films that depict sexual abuse, violence, and underage actors in explicit sexual situations could easily be seen as violators of the new rules—and yet, all of these studios and performers will not be targeted and will continue to be allowed to process payments freely via Mastercard.
What about those actors that have passed away? Will the films they appeared in be removed because you can’t update their identification? Would classic films or television shows be wiped from existence? Not likely.
Moving forward, as a union and a community, we will not have our cries ignored. This open letter to you, Mastercard, is an opportunity for you to have a conversation with the actual workers who you are hurting, instead of just the bad-faith groups claiming to save us—or as they put it, “help victims.” If you are only listening to one side, you are missing half of the conversation. We are happy to bring the conversation to you, as we walk the picket line outside of your headquarters. Zoom works great as well. Your choice, Mastercard.