Pornhub fined over ‘sex trafficked’ videos scandal

US

The owner of Pornhub has admitted to making more than $864,000 (£679,000) from sex trafficking by posting videos of women on its site without their consent, US prosecutors have said.

Aylo Holdings “knowingly enriched itself by turning a blind eye” to victims who told the company they had been lied to and forced into the videos”, James Smith, head of the FBI’s New York office, said.

The Montreal-based firm, formerly known as MindGeek, has agreed to pay more than $1.8m (£1.4m) to the US government and individual damages to the victims.

Under an agreement between Aylo and prosecutors, the firm has agreed to pay victims compensation, but it is not known who is eligible and how they can apply.

Aylo was found to have hosted videos and accepted payments from GirlsDoPorn, a now-defunct adult film production company, whose operators were convicted of a range of sex trafficking crimes.

Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in the statement: “It is our hope that this resolution, which includes certain agreed payments to the women whose images were posted on the company’s platforms and an independent monitorship brings some measure of closure to those negatively affected.”

Pornhub is one of the world’s largest adult content websites and often referred to as the “YouTube of porn”.

From 2017 to 2020, Aylo received $864,000 (£679,000) that insiders knew or should have known was coming from GirlsDoPorn’s sex trafficking operations, prosecutors said.

The firm was too slow and not thorough enough in removing all the non-consensual videos, even after some of the women appealed directly to the company.

According to prosecutors, the company received more than $100,000 (£79,000) from GirlsDoPorn as well as roughly $764,000 (£600,000) in payments from advertisers attributable to the production company.

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Aylo Holdings said in a statement that it “deeply regrets” hosting content from GirlsDoPorn.

GirlsDoPorn, it said, gave them written consent forms purportedly signed by the women so it didn’t know the forms were obtained through fraud and coercion.

“Aylo is not pleading guilty to any crime, and the government has agreed to dismiss its charge against the company after three years, subject to the company’s continued compliance with the Deferred Prosecution Agreement,” the company said.

On Wednesday, the EU said Pornhub and two other major porn sites would need to prove the ages of their users, to keep people safe on the internet.

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