Ottawa, Ontario February 22, 2021
As a national organization of women, we are, frankly, scandalized that pornography is so freely available in Canada on the Internet. These pornography sites portray child sexual abuse, rape, sex trafficking, revenge pornography, spycam videos of women, and other non-consensual material. The repeated use of this material on pornographic sites has driven the women who are subjects of these humiliating videos (over which they have no control) to despair, substance abuse, and suicide.
The producers and distributers of this offensive material are not held accountable for this Internet exploitation of women and children. Instead, these pornography sites have become an unrestricted “free for all”, or a wild west, where virtually any sexual behaviour is freely available at the mere click of button.
The pornography sites are operated through an adult entertainment conglomerate, MindGeek, with long hydra-like arms, which controls over 100 different pornographic sites on the Internet.
Included in MindGeek’s stable of porn sites is Pornhub. Pornhub is a Canadian Internet pornography site which came into existence in 2007 and is the most popular pornography site in the world. It receives an average of 3.5 billion visits a month. Pornhub rakes in money from almost 3 million advertising impressions a day. It is for good reason, however, that the Pornhub site has been blocked in China, Russia, Philippines, and India.
On December 4, 2020, the New York Times exposed Pornhub videos on child sexual abuse, revenge pornography, and rape. The article included accounts of women who said they were depicted in videos posted without their consent. Shortly after the New York Times article was published, Mastercard banned the use of its service on Pornhub, as did Visa, which suspended its use across all MindGeek properties. As a result of this suspension, and the resulting loss of profits, Pornhub banned uploads from non-verified users and removed millions of videos that had been uploaded by such accounts over the years. Pornhub claims it will also introduce a new user verification process and grow its teams of moderators to audit its site.
MindGeek and Pornhub are both wildly profitable business enterprises and their assertion that they are moderating their product on the site is illusory, or gaslighting, rather than a reality. It is ludicrous to assume that these for-profit sites are willingly reducing their profits. The evidence contrary to this is the vast amount and type of pornography available today. It is proof that the owners and operators of these sites are not restricting pornographic material, notwithstanding statements to the contrary.
There are provisions in the Criminal Code prohibiting adult and child pornography (sections 162.1(1) and 163.1). The Child Protection Act provides for mandatory minimum/maximum penalties for this abuse.
Our Recommendations Are:
- Videotapes, photographs, pornographic writing, and magazines must be monitored by way of specialized units within local and provincial police as well as by the RCMP. These special units must be enlarged in order to deal with the great increase that has occurred in regard to Internet pornography today.
- Legislation and regulation must be implemented to require that pornographic material be available on the Internet only if it is backed by verification including the written consent of the parties involved, their identity, and age. Failure to comply with these requirements should lead to stringent penalties.
- The anonymity of the posters must be eliminated. Those posting videos on pornographic sites must be required to provide the verification of their identity, age, address, and the consent of those participating in the videos by way of government-issued documentation and/or social security number that must be confirmed before access is permitted to the site. If such information is in conflict with privacy laws, then the latter should be amended to accommodate this requirement because of the serious implications of posting such material.
- Download buttons should be removed from pornography sites.
One of the features of some pornography sites that differentiates them from other sites that host user-generated content is the ability to download videos to private computers. This means that even if an offensive video is removed from the site, the video may still be viewed by those who have downloaded the video and uploaded it elsewhere. Therefore, even if pornography sites’ video scanning processes prevent the downloaded video from being reuploaded to their own sites, it would not prevent the video from being uploaded to other video sharing sites. Consequently, the removal of the download button would not entirely prevent videos from being downloaded or otherwise retransmitted elsewhere because of freely available software that would enable this. It would nevertheless act as a deterrent and reduce the potential damage from non-consensual video uploads.
- The voluntary suspension by Visa and Mastercard on Pornhub purchases should be mandatory for all credit cards, secure payment applications, such as PayPal, and banks. This will not eliminate the purchase of pornography because individuals will turn to other currencies, such as Bitcoin, but it would at least serve as a deterrent.
- Pornographic sites must be required to pay compensation to those whose images were used on the site without their consent. This would ensure that the sites would carefully verify the identity and consent of the individual before posting the video.
Pornography has become nothing more than virtual rape, child abuse, and sexual assault. It is the profit motive that makes these despicable depictions available on pornographic sites. They must be regulated and controlled to protect individuals, families, and society.
For further information contact:
REAL Women of Canada
Western Canada Board Member
REAL Women of Canada