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<nettime> Flash: sleazy web-porn industry all the fault of sex-crazed Eu
Bruce Sterling on Fri, 18 Oct 2002 02:41:23 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Flash: sleazy web-porn industry all the fault of sex-crazed Europeans!

"In such a scenario, where an unsupervised para-governmental entity can
potentially stage-manage the exile of an entire industry, one has to
wonder why any company would allow itself to be manipulated toward its own
banishment, not to mention to turn over on members of its own community."

*Because they're a red-light district, that's why.  It's been the nature
of the porn business since 500 BC. -- bruces

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Dave Farber <dave {AT} farber.net>
> Date: Sat Oct 12, 2002  07:45:50 PM US/Central
> To: ip <ip {AT} v2.listbox.com>
> Subject: [IP] New credit card rules could imperil porn sites, from AVN 
> Online
> Reply-To: dave {AT} farber.net
> ------ Forwarded Message
> From: Declan McCullagh <declan {AT} well.com>
> Reply-To: declan {AT} well.com
> Date: Sat, 12 Oct 2002 10:46:39 -0400
> To: politech {AT} politechbot.com
> Subject: FC: New credit card rules could imperil porn sites, from AVN 
> Online
> ---
> From: "Kathee Brewer" <cat {AT} avnonline.com>
> To: "Declan {AT} Well. Com" <declan {AT} well.com>
> Cc: "Tom Hymes" <tom {AT} avnonline.com>, "Ken" <ken {AT} avnonline.com>
> Subject: "New VISA/MasterCard Regulations Could Forever Change the Adult
> Internet Landscape"
> Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 14:52:16 -0500
> Declan:
> Thought you might be interested in this. It just went up on the site 
> this
> morning.
> Keep up the good work with the list!
> Best,
> Kathee Brewer
> Technology Editor
> AVN Online (not Adult Video News -- we're two different print 
> publications!
> <wink>)
> http://www.avnonline.com/issues/200210/newsarchive/101002_lead.shtml
>   Another Turn of the Screw
>>> By Tom Hymes and Kathee Brewer
>   New VISA/MasterCard Regulations Could Forever Change the Adult 
> Internet
> Landscape
> Oct. 10, 2002
> LOS ANGELES – According to an announcement released last week by three 
> of
> the adult Internet‚s larger third-party aggregators - Epoch/Paycom, 
> iBill,
> and CCBill - VISA and MasterCard (V/MC) have established several new
> regulations that have the potential to profoundly change the 
> relationship
> between aggregators and adult Webmasters who do not have their own 
> merchant
> accounts.
> <[text omitted.]>
>   AVN Online spoke with several industry attorneys regarding these
> developments, and received far more ominous assessments from them. This 
> was
> to be expected, not only because of natural professional proclivities or
> because they have been warning for years that the industry was fatally
> vulnerable to regulatory crackdowns, but more importantly because, 
> almost
> to a man, they believe the credit card companies (i.e. V/MC) are in the
> penultimate stage of fulfilling their part of a devilish pact they
> surreptitiously struck with the government in which they immolate the 
> adult
> Internet industry in the United States in exchange for long-desired
> favorable bankruptcy legislation. [New U.S. legislation at the federal
> level restricts bankruptcy filings favorably for credit card companies.]
> This "theory" was first postulated more than three years ago, and now,
> according to Greg Piccionelli, an ardent believer, it is finally 
> happening.
>   Piccionelli is an attorney with Los Angeles-based Brull, Piccionelli,
> Sarno, Braun and Vradenburgh. He specializes in patent law, but also 
> has a
> slew of the major adult Internet companies as clients, as well as a long
> history of dealing with entrenched corporate entities like V/MC. He 
> offered
> the following remarks.
> "I knew this was going to happen," he said. "We told a lot of our 
> clients
> that this was going to happen, because we already knew about it." In 
> fact,
> for years Piccionelli has been predicting that this policy crackdown was
> going to happen.
> "In terms of the cover story," he continued, "VISA and MasterCard are
> tightening up their regulations ostensibly to further protect themselves
> from rampant credit card fraud on the Internet. That's what all of this 
> is
> supposed to be about. (Now keep in mind the drama I've been beating for 
> the
> last year, which is this vicarious-and-contributory, aiding-and-abetting
> conspiratorial liability. Keep that in the back of your mind throughout 
> all
> of this.)"
> According to Piccionelli, the seeds of the current situation were 
> planted
> years ago, when the third-party aggregators took on their current role 
> in
> the industry. "The aggregators set themselves up for this day when they
> moved into the position of being the billing entities for the adult 
> online
> industry rather than each merchant having their own merchant 
> relationship
> with a bank," he said. "At that point in time, they <[the aggregators]> 
> were
> delighted, because they believed that this would once and for all solve 
> the
> <[industry's]> problems, that they would manage things a lot more
> effectively, because that's all they did. And I remember telling them 
> then
> that it's only a matter of time, because what is happening is that this 
> is
> just making a smaller number of targets, and if and when the day comes 
> that
> they <[V/MC]> want to bomb the industry, it's going to be a much more
> manageable endeavor.
> "So that was the beginning of the process," he continued, "and the
> aggregators have set themselves up for this day. And now, either the
> federal or state government, or VISA, but somebody – and I have a strong
> suspicion, though I'm not going to go out on a limb and say I know, 
> because
> I don't want to get sued - but I have a strong suspicion that somebody 
> has
> gone to these aggregators and said, 'You know, you're liable for what 
> goes
> on, on these sites, and we could nail you right now, but instead you're
> going to help the government clean up the Internet, and this is how 
> you're
> going to do it. We're going to change the rules to require you to 
> acquire
> all this information, and then you're going to get it to us. And we're
> going to give to you a series of criteria to use.'
> "And if the sites don't comply with that criteria," Piccionelli 
> continued,
> "it will be because the criteria is content oriented. In other words, it
> will have something to do with the nature of the content on the sites. 
> Now,
> the government can't do that, because it would be content-based
> restriction, but VISA can as long as they're not doing it on behalf of 
> the
> government. And look how nicely VISA has insulated itself from it; 
> they've
> now gotten the third-party processors to do it. And of course, when the
> processors are finished with this process, they'll go down too.
> "These are the most ominous signs that there have been yet that the war 
> is
> coming," he said, "because reading between the lines, this is what's 
> going
> on: One, the aggregators are going to become the parties that accumulate
> the information that will probably through some means be passed on to 
> the
> government for evaluation for prosecution. If the aggregators say [to a
> Webmaster], 'We're not going to process for you anymore,' they may not 
> even
> give a reason why, because if they do, such as, 'Well, we've been told 
> that
> the kind of material you have on your site could subject you to criminal
> liability, and therefore us to criminal liability,' that would 
> basically be
> an admission that they know that they've been processing for somebody 
> that
> could have criminal liability. So they probably won't say that, but if,
> seemingly for no reason, the third party processors just say, 'We've 
> done
> an evaluation, and we've decided not to take your business anymore,' 
> start
> sweating bullets, because that probably means that that information 
> about
> your site has now been turned over, either directly or indirectly, to
> somebody else."
> The next piece of the Piccionelli puzzle has to do with the new 
> geographic
> restrictions. "The territoriality thing is really a little bit 
> brilliant,"
> he said, "because it takes the argument that if you tighten the noose 
> too
> much in the United States they're just going to go offshore, and turns 
> it
> all on its head; which actually may be the government's intent. I think 
> the
> whole idea is to shut down the adult entertainment business online in 
> the
> United States; actually get it offshore, because then they can say to 
> the
> conservatives, 'Look, we cleaned <[the Internet]> up to the extent that 
> we
> could, and it will be up to some future Republican administration to 
> come
> up with some sort of treaty,' and they'll just blame it on the 
> Europeans,
> and everyone will just go, 'Well, of course, the Europeans.'"
> To Piccionelli, one big nail in the adult industry's coffin is the fact
> that data is being requested by VISA down to the individual URL. "I 
> think
> this should be a tremendous shot across the bow for the industry," he 
> said,
> "because <[typically]> you bomb the enemy before you send in troops, 
> and the
> equivalent of that here is that you do an investigation, you acquire all
> the information you need, and then you get indictments. And what we have
> here is that, Website by Website, they're going to know what's going on.
> Now, you have to understand that knowing what's going on Website by 
> Website
> should be immaterial, because if you were going to take a look at the
> recurring billing situation of, say, a gym, would VISA and MasterCard 
> care
> how many chargebacks come from the Westlake Village branch of 24 Hour
> Fitness versus the Van Nuys branch? No, they don't care. They just say 
> it's
> one corporation and want to know what the chargebacks are for the
> corporation. So why would they be interested in chargebacks Website by
> Website? Well, because for criminal prosecutions based on content, it's
> Website by Website."
> But that's not the only motive, according to Piccionelli. "<[Another]> 
> reason
> why they <[VISA]> want <[to receive data]> Website by Website is 
> because then
> they can say, 'New rule: Since the way that these sites acquire the
> customers that generate these chargebacks is through an affiliate 
> program,
> we want to know who the affiliates are that are sending the traffic to 
> that
> site.' Then they will say that if you are a merchant that affiliates 
> with
> one of these people that have been known to send traffic that generates
> high chargebacks, they're going to terminate you. That's the 2003 turn 
> of
> the screw, where all member sites that are in the crosshairs [will be 
> faced
> with] the decision: Are we going to turn over to the IPSP our list of
> affiliates?
> "In fact, I predict it'll go one more step down," continued Piccionelli,
> "and one day one of these IPSPs will knock on the door of one of the
> <[sponsors]> and say, 'We've been told by VISA that we have to 
> terminate you,
> but they did give us an alternative. If you could clean up your act and 
> try
> to identify where the traffic is coming from that produced the 
> chargebacks,
> they'll give you three months to try and fix the situation.' And of 
> course,
> some of these guys will say, 'No thank you; I've got processing 
> offshore.'
> But others will <[give them]> the list, and those guys, when they're 
> dealing
> with their IPSPs, will think, 'Great; saved again, thank you very much.'
> They won't know that when the three months elapse and they've given away
> all the information, the map, that they're doomed, along with their
> affiliates.
> "By the way," added Piccionelli, "you should also notice that the 
> merchants
> will now be called Sponsored Merchants. <[What that means]> is that if 
> you
> are one of these new IPSPs, VISA can now say to you, 'If you want to 
> stay
> in business you have to do it this way; you have to sponsor the 
> merchant,
> which means that you are going to be responsible for these guys, and 
> we're
> going to hold you accountable.' Now, what if 'hold you accountable' 
> means
> that VISA lets these guys know that there are all these criminal laws 
> out
> there, but 'we're not going to evaluate the sites that you're 
> sponsoring,
> but maybe you should?'
> "Now that you have a nice tight system where you know the affiliates of
> each one of the people who actually have the money," said Piccionelli,
> bringing the scheme full circle, "that's when you start going to the
> affiliates and saying, 'You have this harmful matter and all this 
> obscene
> material on your site. We're going to prosecute you unless you go out of
> business and admit that you've been getting it from this <[sponsor]> 
> and that
> they knew perfectly well <[what was on your site]>, despite their terms 
> and
> conditions.' After they do five, six, or 10 of these people, now they 
> have
> all they need for a RICO action against the <[sponsor]>, and then they 
> go
> after them. And remember, it has to happen relatively quickly, because
> they've got to get <[the Internet]> cleaned up for the 2004 election."
> In such a scenario, where an unsupervised para-governmental entity can
> potentially stage-manage the exile of an entire industry, one has to 
> wonder
> why any company would allow itself to be manipulated toward its own
> banishment, not to mention to turn over on members of its own community.
> "Because the affiliate program Webmasters <[sponsors]> have made so much
> money they'll do anything to stay in business," explained Piccionelli,
> "just like these aggregators will also do anything to stay in business."
> ....
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