Credit cards will be lost if used to buy child porn

Out-Law News | 20 Jul 2006 | 3:09 pm | 1 min. read

New powers to allow banks and building societies to remove the credit cards of customers cautioned for or convicted of buying indecent images of children online were agreed in Parliament on Tuesday.

The Data Protection (Processing of sensitive personal data) Order of 2006 amends the Data Protection Act of 1998 to allow card issuers to process sensitive personal data provided to them by law enforcement authorities so that they can withdraw the card used to commit the offence.

The order results from collaboration between the Department for Constitutional Affairs, the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS), the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), law enforcement agencies, children's charities and the Home Office.

Data protection minister Baroness Cathy Ashton said: "This order will help to disrupt paedophile activity and in that way will have an impact on re-offending. It is vital to disrupt and where possible to curtail paedophile activities. Removing the credit cards and closing the accounts of these people are critically important steps."

According to Home Office figures, in 2003 and 2004 around 3,000 people were "dealt with" for taking or making indecent photographs or fake photographs of children, up from just over 1,000 in the preceding two years.

APACS, the UK payments association, welcomed the plans. Sandra Quinn, APACS' Director of Corporate Communications, said: "No card provider wants to be associated with those who commit these crimes. With this change in the law our members will have the information they need to remove offenders' cards."

The order will come into force on 26th July. It does not require the card issuer to remove or close an account but will be up to the card issuer to make the decision on the basis of the customer's breach of contract.

Meanwhile, new figures from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) show that only 0.2% of potentially illegal online content is now hosted in the UK – down from 18% ten years ago.  The US apparently hosts 57.8% of commercial child abuse content, according to the IWF.