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

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Splatsin First Nation concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, will struggle to recover without habitat protection and restoration action - report

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Five-year-old Bayne Krause poses for a photo with his mom Marianne. Bayne’s shirt reads, ‘I have Cystic Fibrosis. Help keep me healthy, please social distance.’ Photo: Laurie Tritschler
West Kootenay mom promotes awareness of cystic fibrosis

Marianne Krause wants people to know what it’s like for her five-year-old son to live with CF

A rolled-over semi along Highway 95. The RCMP have responded to nine collisions in the last month. (Brain Duchovnay photo)
Golden/Field RCMP recap last two months

The RCMP responded to 463 calls to service over the last two months

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

RCMP (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
High-risk takedown on Highway 1 following Shuswap shooting

Upon further investigation, the vehicle and its occupants were not associated with the shooting

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read