MindGeek Canada managing director Feras Antoon appears on screen during a sound check as he waits to appear virtually before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

MindGeek Canada managing director Feras Antoon appears on screen during a sound check as he waits to appear virtually before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

More than 70 MPs, senators call for criminal investigation of Pornhub’s parent company

Recent evidence alleges Montreal-based MindGeek regularly shared child pornography and sexual assault videos

More than 70 parliamentarians from all parties are calling for a full criminal investigation into Pornhub’s parent company following testimony from survivors.

The demand, spelled out in a letter Monday to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, comes two weeks after a similar request by more than 100 victims of exploitive content they say was posted to websites owned by MindGeek.

The lawmakers cite recent evidence by victims and child-protection organizations alleging the Montreal-based company regularly shared child pornography and sexual assault videos as well as content shot or posted without the consent of subjects.

“Even more alarming, we have heard evidence that MindGeek continues to make available material featuring child sexual abuse material and non-consensual acts, as one survivor testified to the ethics committee on Feb. 19, 2021: ‘Thanks to Pornhub, today is day 1,292 that I have been naked on these porn sites,’” the letter states.

MindGeek has denied all accusations of wrongdoing, saying it is a global leader in preventing distribution of exploitive videos and images.

“MindGeek has zero tolerance for non-consensual content, child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and any other content that lacks the consent of all parties depicted,” the company said in an email this month.

“The harrowing stories of the survivors of CSAM and non-consensual imagery shake us to our core.”

In December, several major credit card companies suspended payment services to Pornhub, prompting the world’s largest pornography platform to scrub some 10 million videos posted by unverified users.

At least five lawsuits have been filed against the company in the U.S. and Canada over the past year on behalf of survivors of child abuse, sex trafficking and non-consensual image uploads.

The 53 MPs and 20 senators who signed the letter accuse MindGeek of failing to report cases of child pornography to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children between 2011 and 2020. The company confirmed in an email it “officially began” reporting to the latter early last year.

The signatories say they were “shocked” to learn from RCMP deputy commissioner Stephen White at the House of Commons ethics committee last month that the agency had “zero outstanding investigations” into the company.

Conservative MP Arnold Viersen, who co-chairs the all-party parliamentary group to end human trafficking, says the hoops survivors have to jump through to get illegal content pulled down are “egregious,” and that existing laws need more rigorous enforcement.

“The law is good, it’s just purely not being enforced,” he said Monday in an interview, adding that he is open to expanding the provisions against sexual exploitation.

In December, the House of Commons ethics committee launched a study on how to protect the privacy and reputations of people who appear on pornography websites following an explosive New York Times opinion piece alleging Pornhub distributed child pornography. A report with recommendations to Parliament is expected later this year.

In a March 1 letter, a group of 104 survivors and 525 NGOs in countries ranging from Austria to Zambia applauded the ethics committee for studying the issue.

The coalition went beyond calling on Ottawa to encourage an RCMP investigation, demanding the government to take “immediate legislative and regulatory action to protect children from this predatory and unethical corporation.”

MindGeek draws 170 million visitors a day, including four million Canadians, and generates $460 million in annual revenue, according to the company. It frequently ranks among the dozen most-visited sites in the world, ahead of Netflix and Zoom.

Though legally headquartered in Luxembourg, the company’s main office sits in a squat glass building along a sunken highway in Montreal.

“We have on our territory probably the biggest platform, the most successful platform, in porn, and laws apply,” Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne, who co-chairs the parliamentary group on human trafficking, said Monday in an interview.

“It’s pretty appalling that we seem to be nowhere in terms of actions by the police against Pornhub.”

MindGeek has pushed back against accusations it allows child sexual abuse material on its sites.

“Over the past year, MindGeek has created and implemented comprehensive measures for verification, moderation, and detection that will ensure Pornhub is the safest platform online. Notably, we have taken the unprecedented step of banning content from unverified uploaders, an industry first among tech and social media platforms,” MindGeek said in an email earlier this month.

The platform works with dozens of non-profit organizations that aim to flag content and stop online child exploitation. It also says it uses extensive measures to shut out such material, including “a vast team” of human moderators to manually review each of the 6.8 million videos uploaded annually and remove illegal material, along with automated detection technologies.

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire crews battle a large wildfire north of Highway 1 east of the Yale Road West exit on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Firefighters battle wildfire in Chilliwack near Hwy 1

Helicopter dropping water on large wildfire in Chilliwack near Yale Road West exit, north of highway

web
Fire breaks out inside Mission Walmart

Customers, staff evacuated as firefighters investigate

Japanese Canadian citizens being transferred into waiting trucks outside Hope Station House. NNMCC L2021-2-1-004. Photographs courtesy of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre
Fight continues for historic Hope Station House

Ombudsman report and stop work order come alongside district’s move to remove heritage status

Lift equipment is driven away from a fire in an adjacent unit on Industrial Way in Chilliwack on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack firefighters deal with heavy smoke, extreme heat in challenging industrial fire

Crews successful in containing fire to 1 unit in industrial building, adjacent units suffer smoke damage

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Most Read