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Pornhub pushes back against accusations that it allows child sexual abuse materials

The company says it uses extensive measures to protect the platform from such content, including "a vast team" of human moderators to manually review each upload and remove illegal material, along with automated detection technologies. Pornhub/Facebook

Pornhub has pushed back against accusations that it allows child sexual abuse materials on its popular online pornography website.

“Any assertion that we allow (that) is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue,” the subsidiary of Montreal-based Mindgeek said in an email Friday.

“We have zero tolerance for child sexual abuse materials (CSAM). Pornhub is unequivocally committed to combating CSAM, and has instituted an industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community.”

The company says it uses extensive measures to protect the platform from such content, including “a vast team” of human moderators to manually review each upload and remove illegal material, along with automated detection technologies.

“Eliminating illegal content and ridding the internet of child sexual abuse material is one of the most crucial issues facing online platforms today, and it requires the unwavering commitment and collective action of all parties.”

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The comments came after The New York Times examined the website that attracts billions of visits monthly to videos including those purported to involve child rapes and exploitation.

READ MORE: Ottawa working to address child pornography as Pornhub faces media criticism, Trudeau says

The article includes comments from various people whose lives were ruined as minors after their nude images were displayed without their knowledge on Pornhub.

Pulitzer Prize winner and columnist Nicholas Kristof wondered in the article how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who calls himself a feminist, can allow Canada to host a company “that inflicts rape videos on the world.”

Trudeau said Friday that his government is working with police and security agencies to address sex trafficking and child pornography.

“We are always extremely concerned with gender-based violence, with exploitation of minors, with child pornography,” Trudeau said Friday outside his Ottawa residence.

“We’re going to continue to work with police agencies and security agencies and all means possible to ensure that all Canadians are kept safe.”

READ MORE: Children for sale: Canada’s youth at the heart of the rising sex trade

A group of Canadian lawmakers recently petitioned the government to take action against Pornhub and its parent company Mindgeek for profiting from “mass sexual crime.”

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The letter to Justice Minister David Lametti followed a previous missive in the spring asking Trudeau to investigate.

Quebec’s Public Safety Minister Geneviève Guilbault said she’s disturbed by the allegations and hopes police are investigating.

Asked whether the site should be shut down at a press conference on Friday afternoon, Guilbault said she worries that if one site is shut down, another will take its place.

Ian Lafrenière, Quebec’s Indigenous affairs minister and a former police officer, said changes need to be made to help police officers conduct investigations and to help victims remove videos from the internet.

Those same recommendations were made in a report by Quebec’s select committee on the sexual exploitation of minors issued on Thursday, Lafrenière, who is a member of the committee, said Friday.

The committee also recommended the Quebec government make the necessary legal changes to force websites and other online platforms to co-operate with police and to erase all data connected with victims of sexual exploitation.

Among the recommendations was changing the definition of “place” in the Criminal Code. It can be difficult he said for police to act if the original crime took place in another country or the website’s servers are in a different jurisdiction.

Mindgeek is based in Montreal but it operates globally and jurisdiction is difficult to determine because it hosts content outside of Canada, said RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Caroline Duval.

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She said the RCMP has discussed the issue of jurisdiction with Mindgeek, in relation to the Criminal Code and the Mandatory Reporting Act.

The RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Crime Centre (NCECC) receives Online Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) referrals from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the USA. Some of these reports are from Mindgeek (Pornhub), and every report is assessed and actioned.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3Ps) offers a service known as Project Arachnid Shield to content hosting companies for the removal of CSE content.

NCECC works closely with International policing partners to serve take down notices to American and international Companies when jurisdiction can be ascertained.

PayPal cut off payment services for the company in late 2019 and credit card companies have been asked to do the same.

Visa and Mastercard didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“American Express has a long-standing global policy that prohibits card acceptance on digital adult content websites,” it wrote in an email.

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