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

Photo screen-shot from School District 51’s website
COVID-19 infection confirmed in Boundary School District

Those potentially exposed to the virus have been told to self-isolate, says acting Superintendent

Stock image.
Judge tells Grand Forks man accused of theft to guard his personal property

Edward ‘Joe’ Wright is accused of a break and entering at a flood-damaged property in North Ruckle

Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Greenwood man to stand trial for alleged stabbing

Grand Forks provincial court will set a trial date next month

Grand Forks Mounties look on as a tow truck prepares to haul an SUV involved in a Highway 3 crash near the intersection of Spraggett Road Friday, April 9. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
First responders attend Highway 3 crash in Grand Forks

No one appears to be hurt in the two-vehicle crash which highway stopped traffic in both directions

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

Thursday, Feb. 4: RDKB Chief Engineer Darryl Funk hoists a banner commemorating last year’s championship season by the Bantam House Bruins. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Bantam Bruins honoured at hair-raising banner ceremony at Grand Forks’ Jack Goddard Arena

Asst. coach Mike Tollis said he reluctantly gave in to the team’s victory wish that he cut his pony tale

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

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

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read