Abuse survivors get first win in case against PornHub

Abuse survivors get first win in case against PornHub

A US District Court has denied a motion from tech organisation MindGeek, the parent company for the pornography website PornHub, to dismiss a class action lawsuit against the Montreal-based tech giant.

The plaintiffs, known only as Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2, both experienced horrific sexual abuse as children which was filmed and appeared on MindGeek’s websites. Jane Doe #1 says that MindGeek entered into an agreement with the man who abused and filmed her, while Jane Doe #2 says that her abuser was able to upload the videos directly to MindGeek sites.

Together they are claiming that MindGeek financially benefited from their abuse, which violates the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

The US National Centre on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) said the decision was a “significant victory for the courageous survivors of childhood sex trafficking and Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) whose videos and images of their sexual abuse were posted on PornHub and other MindGeek-owned sites”.

Dawn Hawkins, NCOSE CEO said:

“This ruling brings the brave survivors—of child sex trafficking and CSAM—one step closer to justice. We are encouraged that MindGeek-owned Pornhub will finally be held to account for profiting from child sex abuse, rape, and sex trafficking material. 

This is the second lawsuit against Pornhub that a judge has allowed to proceed, despite MindGeek’s claim that it has legal immunity under CDA Section 230. This ruling represents a complete rejection of such claims.

The Court made clear what we have said all along: CDA 230 does not provide immunity for the knowing possession and distribution of CSAM. This ruling is one step forward in our quest to seek justice for survivors of Pornhub’s exploitation empire – a step made possible by our courageous plaintiffs.”

Women’s Forum Australia last year reported that MindGeek is currently facing at least seven class-action suits with more than 100 survivors seeking legal action against the company.

Survivors claim that the company has knowingly profited from material that depicts rape, sexual exploitation, including of minors, and trafficking and other non-consensual sexual content, and that PornHub has “created a teeming marketplace for child pornography and ‘every other form’ of non-consensual sexual content”.