Disclaimer: Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative awareness and education organization that has educated on the harmful effects of porn since 2009. Some of the issues discussed in the following article are legislatively-affiliated. Though our organization is non-legislative, we fully support the regulation of already illegal forms of pornography and sexual exploitation, and we support the fight against sex trafficking.
Fight the New Drug has joined a collective of 104 survivors of sexual exploitation and 525 NGOs from 65 countries that have sent a letter to a Canadian Parliamentary Committee praising the committee’s actions thus far, and urging a “full criminal investigation” into MindGeek, for appearing to have violated Canada’s child protection laws and laws regarding the sharing of intimate images without consent.
MindGeek, owner of Pornhub and more than 100 other pornography websites, has reportedly monetized child sexual abuse images uploaded to and downloaded from their websites, along with videos of rape, sex trafficking, and other forms of image-based abuse. MindGeek executives were called to testify as part of an ongoing investigation into Pornhub by Canada’s Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. While MindGeek is legally headquartered in Luxembourg, its main office is in Montreal.
Based on the testimonies from Mindgeek CEO Feras Antoon and COO David Tassillo, the porn company appears to have violated Canada’s child protection laws requiring reporting child sexual abuse material (CSAM) to the police. Since the Mindgeek executives testified that their human moderators view every piece of content uploaded to their site, the letter concludes that Mindgeek knowingly distributed CSAM and nonconsensual content. Because of their alleged failures to prevent the spread of illegal content, the letter states that Mindgeek “cannot be trusted to self-regulate.”
In the last few months, several major credit card companies have ceased processing Pornhub transactions after confirming illegal content on the site and five new lawsuits have been filed against the company on behalf of survivors of child abuse, sex trafficking, and non-consensual image uploads.
One survivor, whose sexual assault was filmed and uploaded to MindGeek sites, told the Ethics Committee, “[I] feel like Pornhub has become my human trafficker, and they have been relentless in doing so.”
Another witness spoke of the lasting harm caused to her after a non-consensually recorded video of her sexual abuse was uploaded to Pornhub. “Nothing will ever be able to undo what has been done…Thanks to Pornhub, today is day 1,292 that I have been naked on these porn sites,” she testified February 19.
On February 22, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, The Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police all testified that they only began receiving reports of child sexual abuse images from Pornhub in late 2020, which appears to be a clear violation of Canadian law. Daniel Bernhard from Friends of the CBC noted, MindGeek executives “should be in handcuffs not Hansard.”
“Anything less than full legal accountability is an injustice to victims whose lives have been damaged as a result of MindGeek’s knowing and willful actions,” global signatories to the letter state.
Only time will tell, but we are grateful to the survivors, advocates, and organizations who have given visibility to these issues for years and made an immeasurable impact in the lives of those who have had their lives torn apart by the adult industry’s largest player.
Hearing details and transcripts of evidence can be found here.