Parliamentary Committee Releases Report on Pornhub



June 23, 2021

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Information, Privacy, and Ethics recently studied the question of ‘Protection of Privacy and Reputation on Platforms such as Pornhub.’ The Committee released its report on June 17, and it includes many noteworthy recommendations.

As we discussed in previous posts (here from Dec 17th and here from Jan 27th), the December 4, 2020 New York Times exposé on the porn industry brought a welcome level of concerned attention to the website and business model of Pornhub and the Mindgeek corporation based in Montreal. Parliament needs to address the fact that these sites host videos of violent pornography, rape, and pornographic videos featuring underage girls. More needs to be done by Parliament and law enforcement to ensure that the pornography industry stops exploiting vulnerable women.

ARPA Canada submitted a brief to the committee in February 2021 addressing the harm of pornography on individuals, systemic problems with the “tube” business model of businesses like Pornhub, criminal code considerations of pornography, and the social harm aspect of pornography and its objectification of the human body. The brief concluded with various recommendations for the Committee.

Below are some highlights of the report’s recommendations that align with ARPA Canada’s recommendations to the Committee.

  • Recommendation #1 of ARPA’s brief focused on the importance of shifting the onus of proving whether a pornographic video is legitimate away from the victim and onto the pornography creator and content host. It also addressed the need for creators and content hosts to verify the consent of individuals in pornographic material. The Committee report also recognizes the need to hold online platforms liable for failure to prevent content from being uploaded without knowledge or consent of all parties, and that the platforms should be required to verify age and consent before uploading content.
  • Recommendation #2 of ARPA’s brief suggested that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage study internet pornography and the need for victims to have immediate legal recourse to have content removed from the internet. The Committee report recommends that the government develop accessible mechanisms to ensure that victims who have had pornographic content posted online will have the right to have the content removed immediately and that they will have the benefit of the doubt if there is a dispute over whether the content was consensual.
  • Recommendation #3 of ARPA’s brief stated that pornography featuring violence and rape should be criminally banned and that a task force should study how to oppose the culture of pedophilia reflected in various pornographic content. The Committee report recommends that the government work with stakeholder groups to determine if non-consensual material depicting sexual violence contributes to new patterns of sexual violence. This would result in further recommendations for action against depictions of sexual violence. The report also focuses on the harms of child sexual abuse content and child pornography, and how the government can prevent and combat those crimes.
  • Recommendation #4 of ARPA’s brief suggested that a criminal investigation be launched into the affairs of businesses like Mindgeek and Pornhub. The Committee report recommends the creation of a legal framework to combat the posting of illegal content and to hold service providers that post pornographic content accountable for harm to individuals and for failure to follow existing laws.

While not a direct reflection of ARPA Canada’s recommendations, the Committee report covers similar information and provides good recommendations. Overall, the final report of the Committee includes 14 strong recommendations encouraging the government to more effectively combat and prevent non-consensual pornographic content and child pornography.

We are grateful for the widespread support at Committee for the recommendations provided. We pray that this report may have a positive impact towards ending the widespread proliferation of pornographic material and the abusive market that comes with it. The issue of online exploitation is one of great concern to many Canadians, especially the victims of the pornography and sex-trafficking industries. ARPA Canada continues to express deep concern for the incredible lack of regulation in the creation and distribution of pornography, but it is encouraging to see good recommendations presented to the government by this Committee.


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