Sin Week, Day 3: Pornography

Today is Day 3 of our examination of “sin industries.” (I know…yesterday should have been day 3. Feel free to assume that I was unable to blog yesterday because I was recovering from the previous night’s debauchery. I’m not saying that’s what happened, but feel free to assume.)

Today’s posting is about pornography (a.k.a. smut, “adult” entertainment, etc.). As it happens, this story is about the end of the porn industry that almost no one is willing to defend, namely child porn. This story is from a Swiss website:
Credit card checks for child porn welcomed

Earlier this week German police used customer details provided by credit card companies to track down suspected subscribers to an illegal child porn website.

…as part of the German raid the prosecutors had demanded all transactions for a specific account as well as a specific sum of money which were connected to products involving child pornography.

“The companies sifted through all their customers according to these two parameters and were able to say which of their customers had paid this amount of money to that account…”

This story could be seen as involving a couple of ethical issues, for the credit card companies involved. On one hand (and this is the issue flagged by the author of the story), the companies allowed authorities to sift through information on millions of customers — most of whom had done nothing wrong. So, their privacy was invaded. That’s not to say that the invasion was not warranted, but privacy (especially vis-a-vis the state) is pretty important to most of us, so there has to be some compelling countervailing value to justify such an invasion. Fighting child pornography is a pretty significant countervailing value, so for many people this one will be a no-brainer.

The other ethical issue, of course, is the credit card industry’s implicit support of the porn industry in general, and the child porn sub-industry in particular. I suspect that credit card companies (like banks generally) try their best NOT to know what business their corporate clients are in, and to be agnostic about what sorts of business is legitimate. Their child-porn customers are likely the “sacrificial lamb,” here (though the “lamb” metaphor probably wrongly implies innocence, here). Rolling over so readily when authorities come knocking for THOSE records may well be what helps credit card companies justify their general attitude that they’re merely helping companies do business, rather than being in the porn business themselves.

A related news item, just FYI:
Unique Video Glasses Offer Privacy To Porn Lovers

A Taiwanese company has unveiled its collection of sleek video glasses that turn film viewing into a private affair, at the world’s biggest porn show on Wednesday.
The video glasses are a boon for porn lovers as they offer high level of privacy with complete viewing session in an inbuilt screen with audio through an ear piece.

OK, sure, so people won’t be able to see what you’re watching. But don’t you think maybe if you’re watching porn on your video-glasses at the laundromat or while waiting in line at the grocery store, those around you will notice the, um, heavy breathing, etc.?

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