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Senator calls on Justice Department to investigate Pornhub

Ben Sasse
United States Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska speaking on the Senate floor on Jan. 31, 2019. |

A U.S. senator has called on the Department of Justice to investigate PornHub for having videos of actual sexual assaults on its website.

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, sent an open letter to Attorney General Bill Barr on Monday regarding the issue.

“In several notable incidents over the past year, Pornhub made content available worldwide showing women and girls that were victims of trafficking being raped and exploited,” explained Sasse.

“Pornhub must not escape scrutiny. I therefore request that the Department open an investigation into Pornhub and its parent entity MindGeek Holding SARL for their involvement in this disturbing pipeline of exploiting children and other victims and survivors of sex trafficking.”

Sasse cited a few incidents, including a Florida man arrested last October for trafficking a 15-year-old girl and uploading videos showing her sexual exploitation to websites including Pornhub.

“In another instance, your Department charged the two owners and two other employees of a popular pornographic film production company with a variety of sex trafficking offenses for employing a disturbing array of deceptive and coercive means to force women to make pornography that they later uploaded to Pornhub against their will,” continued Sasse.

“Indeed, the problem of Pornhub streaming content featuring women and children victims of sex trafficking reached the point in November that PayPal cut off services for Pornhub, refusing to facilitate this abuse any longer.”

One of the most popular websites in the United States, Pornhub boasts of having had around 42 billion visits worldwide in the year 2019, or about 115 million visits each day.

Last month, Megha Mohan of the British Broadcasting Corporation reported that dozens of people had videos of their sexual assaults uploaded to Pornhub.

The BBC highlighted the case of Rose Kalemba, a 25-year-old who spent months in 2009 trying to get Pornhub to take down a video of her being raped as a teenager.

"The titles of the videos were 'teen crying and getting slapped around,' 'teen getting destroyed,' 'passed out teen.' One had over 400,000 views," explained Kalemba to the BBC.

"The worst videos were the ones where I was passed out. Seeing myself being attacked where I wasn't even conscious was the worst."

While Pornhub initially ignored her requests to take down the videos, they eventually relented when she created a new email address and posed as a lawyer threatening legal action.

For its part, Pornhub sent the BBC a statement claiming that the Kalemba incident happened before their current owners took control of the website.

“Since the change in ownership, Pornhub has continuously put in place the industry's most stringent safeguards and policies when it comes to combating unauthorized and illegal content, as part of our commitment to combating child sex abuse material,” stated the site.

“The company employs Vobile, a state-of-the-art third party fingerprinting software, which scans any new uploads for potential matches to unauthorized material and makes sure the original video doesn't go back up on the platform.”

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