Payment card industry cleans up its act

No service for offensive websites

Apacs, the Association for Payment Clearing Services, has upgraded its guidelines for the kind of websites its members should take payment from. Previous guidelines warned card issuers not to provide services to any site which was likely to bring the industry into disrepute.

A spokeswoman for Apacs said the guidelines needed upgrading because they were originally outlined seven years ago. Apacs members will not "do business with Internet sites that sell content or merchandise inciting, advocating or perpetuating activities such as child pornography, racism, terrorism and violence against persons, including scenes of sexual violence." The specific guidelines are offered as advice to Apacs members.

The Apacs spokeswoman said: "Banks provide payment services for websites and we've always said those facilities should only be offered to ethical companies and not damage the reputation of the card industry. We're not banning porn." She added that Apacs guidelines cover UK-based companies. It is up to individual banks to withdraw services from sites they believe are in breach of the guidelines.

The move follows a campaign by the family of Jane Longhurst who was murdered in Brighton by Graham Coutts, a keen consumer of necrophiliac websites. The Longhurst family called for tighter regulation of such websites. ®

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