MEDIA RELEASE: Family First Backs Global Push For Criminal Investigation Into Mindgeek/Pornhub For Crimes Against Children

Media Release 8 March 2021
Family First NZ has joined forces with 104 sexual exploitation survivors and 525 NGOs from 65 countries calling on the Canadian Government to launch a criminal investigation into Pornhub-parent company MindGeek.

The open letter was submitted as part of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics inquiry into MindGeek for allegations relating to trafficking, under-age content and image-based abuse (see transcript of evidence here).

The inquiry followed the viral #Traffickinghub petition which attracted more than two million signatures urging MindGeek executives be held accountable for hosting child sexual abuse material (CSAM), content using victims of trafficking and image-based abuse.

The open letter says

“MindGeek, which owns Pornhub and at least 160 other hardcore pornography websites, has received criticism for facilitating and profiting from criminal acts including sex trafficking, filmed sexual abuse of children, and non-consensually recorded and distributed pornography. By investigating these criminal acts, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics has set an example of a commitment to the protection of the rights of some of the most vulnerable members of society, particularly children who are victims of or at risk of sexual abuse.”

In December last year, the New York Times exposed Pornhub as “infested” with illegal child sexual abuse. Visa and Mastercard confirmed that finding in a resulting investigation and immediately ceased processing payments for the porn giant.

In 2019, Pornhub said it “strongly opposed” the New Zealand Government’s proposed crackdown on porn. Then-Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin was warning of an “avalanche of pornography” bombarding young people, and the Government was considering sweeping changes to stop kids accessing adult material, including a New Zealand-wide R18 porn filter – where residents will have to provide age ID to have access to porn websites. Pornhub claimed that they would “promote ethical and responsible behaviour.” But based on MindGeek’s testimony and its longstanding business practices, it is clear to all that MindGeek cannot be trusted to self-regulate.

Family First continues to call for an Inquiry in New Zealand by an expert panel to investigate the public health effects and societal harms of pornography to both children and adults, and to make policy recommendations to Parliament.

The Ministry of Health in its submission (responding to the 22,334-written petition calling for such an Inquiry) acknowledged that “the content of pornography has changed significantly over the last 20 years and has become more extreme, deviant and violent” and that “violence towards women and girls is depicted in 80% of online content. This has a variety of harmful impacts on children and young people’s sexual expectations, attitudes, and behaviour.”

Family First is calling on immediate legislative support for families including:

  1. Online Public Areas Safety Bill: This bill would require all retail shops, schools, businesses and public areas which provide free Wi-Fi to the general public (and especially children) to ensure that the appropriate filtering from pornography is in place.
  2. Online Child Safety Bill: This bill would require ISP’s to provide or make available to all subscribers (parents) the technology which will allow the parents to monitor, control, supervise, block, and restrict their child’s access to the internet.
  3. Raising Awareness on the Harms of Pornography Bill: This bill would require education materials to be made available to parents, schools, and the general public – similar to alcohol and tobacco health warnings – regarding the public health risks and harms of pornography, its close link with sex trafficking, how parents can engage filters, and more.
  4. Government Accountability, Trust, & Etiquette (G.A.T.E) Bill: This bill would require government agencies to adopt policies which would prohibit users of government-owned devices (like laptops and cellphones) from accessing sexually explicit, pornographic, and sexually harassing material. It would also ensure that appropriate filters are in place in all government agencies and services.

Other New Zealand signatories include Ally-Marie Diamond (Survivor Leader, Wahine Toa Rising), Debbi Tohill (Executive Director, Rape Prevention Education Whakatu Mauri Trust), Sammi Huxley-Newton (Social worker, Women’s Refuge) and Bronnie Lyell (Counsellor).

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