Pornhub parent company MindGeek faces U.S. lawsuit over exploitation allegations

An international law firm has launched a lawsuit in the U.S. against Canadian company MindGeek over alleged sexual exploitation videos on one of its websites, Pornhub.

Brown Rudnick LLP says the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, is on behalf of 30 victims of child pornography, rape and human trafficking who the suit claims were exploited on Pornhub's site.

The firm is seeking damages for the effect of the exploitation against the alleged victims and the imposition of policies that ensure only consensual videos are uploaded to the site.

None of the lawsuit's claims have been proven in court.

"Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the complaint alleges that Pornhub and MindGeek knowingly profited from videos depicting rape, child sexual exploitation, revenge porn, trafficking, and other nonconsensual sexual content," a statement from Rudnick Brown LLP reads.

"Brown Rudnick is seeking damages for the devastation this exploitation has caused these victims, (and) protection for them and thousands of other victims from further exploitation."

In a statement, Pornhub said it is reviewing the lawsuit but added that it has it has stringent measures now in place, including the banning of uploads from unverified users.

It said it takes all complaints seriously, including Brown Rudnick LLP's suit.

The company "has zero tolerance for illegal content and investigates any complaint or allegation made about content on our platforms," the statement reads

MindGeek, which is based in Montreal, is under investigation by a Canadian federal privacy watchdog.

Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien said his office is looking into the company after hearing testimony from women who say Pornhub brushed off their pleas to have videos taken down.

MindGeek draws 170 million visitors a day, including four million Canadians, and generates $460 million in annual revenue, according to the company. It frequently ranks among the dozen most-visited sites in the world, ahead of Netflix and Zoom.

More than 100 victims and other lawmakers have also called for full criminal investigations into MindGeek, and also allege that Pornhub regularly shared child pornography and sexual-assault videos as well as content shot or posted without the consent of subjects.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2021.

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