A class action against MindGeek, the owners of Pornhub, has moved forward after an Alabama judge allowed a class action of childhood sex trafficking to proceed against the porn giant.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) spoke out on the decision, stating that the judge’s ruling allowing the class action lawsuit Doe #1 et al v. MG Freesites LTD et al, to proceed is 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.
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“This ruling brings the brave survivors—of child sex trafficking and CSAM—one step closer to justice,” said Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “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,” Hawkins added.
According to NCOSE, Plaintiff Jane Doe #1 was just 16 years old when she was drugged and raped by a man in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The child sexual abuse and rape of Jane Doe #1 was filmed. That same man entered into an agreement with MindGeek to share profits from views and downloads of Jane Doe #1’s victimization on MindGeek’s websites.
MindGeek reviewed, categorized, tagged, and disseminated the images and videos depicting the rape and sexual exploitation of sixteen-year-old Jane Doe #1.
At no time did MindGeek or Pornhub attempt to verify Jane Doe #1’s identity, age, inquire about her status as a victim of trafficking, or otherwise protect or warn against her traffickers before or while the video of her being drugged and raped was sold, downloaded, viewed and otherwise advertised on Pornhub.
When Plaintiff Jane Doe #2 was still a minor, a sex trafficker forced her to participate in the creation of sexually explicit videos. These videos of Jane Doe #2’s sexual abuse were uploaded and disseminated through websites owned, operated and/or controlled by MindGeek including, Pornhub.
Neither Pornhub, nor any other website, owned or operated by MindGeek undertook any measure to verify Jane Doe #2’s identity or age. As a result, child sex abuse material depicting Jane Doe #2 was distributed broadly throughout the world on MindGeek’s internet platforms.
The plaintiffs are suing MindGeek for financially benefiting from their abuse, which violates the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, among other laws.
Global advocates have been asked to help call on INTERPOL to instigate international criminal investigations into MindGeek by signing a joint letter. The advocates state that INTERPOL, particularly with its Global Complex for Innovation, is in the unique position to coordinate international investigations and cooperation into the organized crime currently taking place on pornography websites owned by MindGeek.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center also offers survivors of pornography-related abuse a way to seek justice. If you, or anyone you know, has faced pornography-related abuse, you can raise your case with them here.
Matthias Browning | Reporter