March 1, 2021

EIE Joins Over 500 NGO's from 65 Countries Calling for Criminal Investigation into MindGeek

EIE Calls for a U.S. DOJ Investigation for Violations of U.S. Child Porn, Sex Trafficking and Obscenity Laws

GREAT FALLS, Va., March 1, 2021 -- Enough Is Enough® (EIE), who has has led the fight to make the internet safer for children and families since 1994, joined a collective of 104 survivors of sexual exploitation and 525 NGOs from 65 countries have sent a letter to a Canadian Parliamentary Committee 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.

Canadian-based MindGeek, owner of Pornhub and more than 100 other pornography websites, has 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.

“MindGeek and online pornographers are getting away with global crimes against humanity due to government and law enforcement agencies’ failure to aggressively enforce existing laws, even in the U.S.!” said EIE President Donna Rice Hughes.  “Canadian officials made it clear MindGeek executives will be held accountable for any laws violated on its own soil. It’s high time the U.S. Department of Justice, which has jurisdiction over MindGeek’s Los Angeles operation and any illegal internet content produced and distributed in the U.S., begin prosecuting multi-billion dollar porn enterprises not only for crimes of child pornography and sex trafficking, but also obscene content,” Hughes continued.

In the last two 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.  

In December, EIE  launched a petition calling on federal and state prosecutors to aggressively enforce all existing laws – including obscenity -- designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of children in the digital world, per EIE's Children's Internet Safety Presidential Pledge and State Attorneys General Pledge. Child pornography, trafficking, sexual predation and obscenity laws were explicitly listed as key components of both Pledges. More than 14,300 people have signed the petition to date.

Obscenity, commonly known as hard-core pornography, is illegal and has no first amendment protection. 18 U.S.C. Chapter 71 § 1460-1470 prohibits distribution of hardcore pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops, and by common carrier.
“Past administrations, except for Attorney General Ashcroft, have failed to uphold the obscenity laws and have given a free pass to the multi-billion-dollar porn industry, allowing these ‘porn hubs’ to operate in our nation without impunity,” said Hughes.

Graphic "obscene" pornography is the primary type of content on Pornhub. Themes depicting teens, incest, torture, strangulation, bestiality, waterboarding, gang bang, and eroticized racism are rampant on the site. The top video categories on Pornhub include statutory rape, strangulation, and teen porn.

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.”  

“Pornhub’s sudden efforts to report child sex abuse content on its site, along with last-minute policy changes initiated in response to mounting public pressure, is too little, too late,” said Hughes. “The victims depicted in the exploitive videos have been irreparably harmed and repeatedly commercially exploited, and the damage has already been done,” Hughes concluded.

“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.

Hearing details and transcripts of evidence can be found here.

EIE continues to ask concerned U.S. citizens to sign its petition to the U.S. Department of Justice.