Three years ago, adult performers, producers, retailers and other workers in the adult industry began reporting banking discrimination en masse. Personal accounts, often unrelated to their business, were suddenly closed. New banks wouldn’t take their account. Credit lines were frozen.
Bills couldn’t be paid. Checks couldn’t be cashed. Businesses couldn’t run.
The cause was Operation Choke Point, a government initiative meant to starve supposedly high-risk businesses of the capital needed to function, by pressuring banks not to work with them. The targets included payday lenders, online gambling, pyramid schemes, and … adult entertainment.
Our issue was never the goals of the program itself, some of which were laudable, as much as the way it used stigma to target adult performers and businesses. Operation Choke Point encouraged banks to discriminate against an entire community, rather than identify actual credit risks in it. It rested on outmoded and inaccurate stereotypes about the adult industry and its workers. We’re not sad to see it go.
The adult industry is not against regulation, and we expect adult businesses — particularly those that work with FSC — to adhere to a code of ethics, both in terms of their workers and their business practices. Operation Choke Point did not discriminate between high-risk bad actors and responsible adult businesses and workers. It was an extrajudicial process with little or no opportunity for appeal, and which paradoxically worked to push parts of the legal industry underground.
FSC helped lead the public outcry against Operation Choke Point, and worked with adult performers and businesses to secure banking services from those who had been discriminated against. While we made some progress, the threat remained.
We hope that the end of Operation Choke Point means that adult performers no longer have to fear that the work that they do will result in a closed bank account, a denied credit line, or the loss of their livelihood.
FSC will continue to work towards broader acceptance by credit card companies and better banking relationships. We are a legal industry, leaders in technology, sexual health and sexual wellness advocates – our businesses, workers, and communities deserve the same access to banking as any other legal industry.