June 24, 2022

Press Statement by Donna Rice Hughes on the Dismantling of Pornhub

For Immediate Release: June 24, 2022

Statement from Donna Rice Hughes, President and CEO of Enough Is Enough®

With the Largest Online Porn Enterprise Execs Stepping Down Amid Alleged Criminal Activity, Enough Is Enough® Ramps Up Call on DOJ to Begin Obscenity Prosecutions

Enough Is Enough®® (EIE), a national non-profit organization who has been leading the fight to make the Internet safer for children and families since 1994, is issuing a clarion call to DOJ to prioritize the aggressive enforcement and funding of all existing laws designed to prevent the online sexual exploitation of children, including the obscenity laws which have gone unenforced for nearly two decades.

This renewed urging comes on the heels of reported layoffs and the resignations of two top executives at MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub, just one week after The New Yorker published a report documenting sexually explicit non-consensual videos and child sex abuse material (CSAM) hosted on Pornhub. The article follows a string of disturbing reports and class action lawsuits against Pornhub and MindGeek.

“With eyes wide open, online pornographers, like Pornhub, have been knowingly breaking U.S. obscenity, child pornography, and sex trafficking laws for years with impunity,” said Donna Rice Hughes, President and CEO of Enough Is Enough®.

“Any child with unrestricted internet access can view graphic online pornography, most of which is prosecutable under existing obscenity laws, and is NOT protected under the First Amendment. It is illegal to produce and distribute. Yesterday’s black-market pornography is now today’s mainstream porn, depicting horrific scenes like teen rape, incest, teens, group sex, torture, strangulation, bestiality, waterboarding, and eroticized racism,” said Hughes.

“While this extreme content would be nauseating to decent adults, children have been fed a steady diet of illegal porn due to the ‘anything goes’ policy of DOJ, who have turned a blind eye to these multi-billion dollar criminal enterprises like MindGeek, headquartered in Luxembourg, but has offices in the U.S. If this continues, we will rally our NGO coalitions to call on Congress for DOJ oversight hearings for their failure to uphold the rule of law.”

Research shows that 58% of kids that consume this pornography, which is the online de facto sex educator of youth, are under the age of 14 years old. Multiple studies show that pornography use leads to an increased risk of committing sexual offenses, with the average age of first perpetration of sexual violence between 15 -16 years old, and strongly associated with exposure to violent pornography.

“For over 18 months, we’ve been calling on the Department of Justice to investigate MindGeek for these crimes against humanity. Pornhub has profited from every click, download and view of abusive, violent and exploitative videos and images that have irreparably harmed the victims featured, including innocent children. EIE’s “Shut Down Pornhub campaign” (17.9K signors) is the only petition calling on DOJ to prosecute Pornhub for knowingly violating obscenity laws in addition to sex trafficking and CSAM laws. So far, nothing.

In order to end child sexual exploitation, abuse and trafficking, its critical to curb its key fueling factor, extreme online porn. Since 1995, Enough Is Enough® (EIE) has been the leading voice calling for the DOJ to prioritize obscenity prosecutions. In a historic first, Congress incorporated EIE supplied language in the FY21 and FY22 Appropriations bills directing DOJ to: “…investigate and prosecute major producers and distributors of hardcore adult pornography that meets the Supreme Court test for obscenity. Such enforcement is necessary to protect the welfare of families and children as traffickers in illegal adult obscenity seek to extend their influence through advances in technology”. 

“Additionally, we are hopeful that Congress will once again take up bi-partisan legislation mandating online pornographers to implement age verification technology. After thirty years in the battle, I know all too well what it takes to dismantle multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprises, and am grateful to our NGO partners, survivors, investigative reporters, credit card companies who stopped processing Pornhub payments, and concerned citizens. Now we need the U.S. Department of Justice to do its part as did the Canadian Parliamentary when it held hearings to hold MindGeek executives accountable. While our work is by no means complete, the dismantling of MindGeek has begun and we are hopeful that other porn giants will be the next to crumble,” concluded Hughes.