European Commission asks three pornography sites for information on minor protection measures News
European Commission asks three pornography sites for information on minor protection measures

The European Commission asked three of the world’s largest pornography sites, Pornhub, Stripchat, and XVideos, on Thursday to provide information on the measures they have taken to assure minors cannot access their content and to prevent amplification of illegal content and gender-based violence.

The Commission is requesting the information from the three companies under the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which creates obligations for online players in accordance with their role, size and impact in the online ecosystem. On December 20, 2023, the Commission designated Pornhub, Stripchat, and XVideos as “very large online platforms (VLOPs)” under the DSA, as they had fulfilled the threshold of having an average monthly user of 45 million in the EU.

Under the DSA, a firm recognized as a VLOP will have to bear more stringent obligations on content moderation and minor protection, including putting in place mitigation measures to address risks related to the dissemination of illegal content online, such as child sexual abuse material, and content affecting fundamental rights, such as non-consensual sharing of intimate material or deepfake pornography. They also must implement measures to protect the rights of children and prevent minors from accessing pornographic content online, such as age verification tools.

VLOPs are required to conduct risk assessments periodically and have those assessment reports externally audited, as well as to engage internal teams with sufficient authority, resources, and assess to ensure their DSA compliance. The Commission is therefore also seeking information on how internal teams have been set up within the three companies to comply with the DSA.

The Commission is giving the three VLOPs a deadline of July 4, 2024, to provide the requested information, the failure of which could possibly lead to a fine. Under such circumstances, the Commission may also decide to request the information by decision, and the failure to comply would then lead to periodic penalty payments.

In March 2024, Pornhub’s parent company Aylo challenged its VLOP status with the General Court of the EU in Luxembourg on the basis of a different calculation method which resulted in an “average monthly user” of 33 million, trying to exempt itself from some of the more stringent obligations under the DSA. On the other hand, XVideos has acknowledged its VLOP status by publishing that it has 85 million average monthly users in the EU as of February 29, 2024.

Apart from the three pornography sites, other designated VLOPs include Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, Booking, Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, Wikipedia, YouTube and Zalando.