ETHI Committee News Release
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Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics
Comité permanent de l'accès à l'information, de la protection des renseignements personnels et de l'éthique
For immediate release
Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics publishes report on the Protection of Privacy and Reputation on Platforms such as Pornhub
Ottawa, June 17, 2021 - Today, Chris Warkentin, MP and Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, tabled in the House of Commons a report entitled Ensuring the Protection of Privacy and Reputation on Platforms Such As Pornhub.
The Committee studied how web platforms such as Pornhub have failed to protect the privacy and reputation of individuals—many of them, minors—who were depicted in intimate images or videos uploaded online without their consent. The Committee’s report makes 14 recommendations to the Government of Canada in view of preventing the online proliferation of non-consensual pornographic content, including child pornography.
Among the report’s key recommendations is that the Government of Canada mandate that content-hosting platforms operating in Canada require affirmation from all persons depicted in pornographic content, before it can be uploaded, that they are 18 years old or older and that they consent to its distribution, and that government consult with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada on the implementation of this obligation. It also recommends that the Government of Canada:
- consult with survivors, child advocacy centres, victim support agencies, law enforcement, web platforms and sex workers prior to enacting any legislation or regulations relating to the protection of privacy and reputation on online platforms;
- in collaboration with the provinces, amend section 3 of An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service (Mandatory Reporting Act) to make the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre the designated law enforcement agency for the purpose of reporting under that section and that it ensure that the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre has the resources it needs to investigate the increased referrals of child sexual abuse materials;
- consider amending section 11 of the Mandatory Reporting Act to extend the period of time to commence prosecution for an offence under this Act; and
- develop accessible mechanisms that ensure that Canadians victimized by the posting of an image or video online without their consent on sites like Pornhub have the right to have that content removed immediately and to be given the benefit of the doubt with respect to the non-consensual nature of the content, and that the Government of Canada provide all the necessary resources required to put in place these accessible mechanisms.
“The allegations against Pornhub are sobering and horrific. The witness testimony of young people’s lives being destroyed by non-consensual intimate videos and child sexual abuse material being shared on online platforms was sobering. The government must ensure that Canadian laws are being enforced and existing tools are used to ensure more lives are not destroyed. The government must also pass legislation to make it perfectly clear that Canadian companies have a responsibility provide a proactive duty of care for our most vulnerable and be held accountable when they contribute to the victimization of vulnerable women and minors.” — Chris Warkentin, Chair of the Committee.
“As Liberal Vice-Chair, I am proud that the motion proposed by one of our Liberal members allowed us to conduct this important study of a topic of deep concern to Canadians. Notably, our committee was called on to address the extremely troubling reports of content-hosting platforms operating in Canada, namely the site Pornhub owned by MindGeek, being callously negligent in failing to prohibit violent and child sexual abuse material from being accessible on their sites as well as failing repeatedly to take down non-consensual material at the request of survivors. As we heard in committee, our government is already seized by these and other disturbing issues emerging from the multi-layered online marketplace and we look forward to seeing the government response to our report.” — Brenda Shanahan, Vice-Chair of the Committee.
“Parliamentarians have done their job throughout this study. However, we would have preferred the report to be tougher on web platforms like Pornhub, which we believe need to take responsibility for their actions. The government has our recommendations, and now it needs to act to restore the trust of parents and victims.” — Marie-Hélène Gaudreau, Vice-Chair of the Committee.
“The Pornhub study should be a wake-up call to the government and police on the need to address the unchecked power of tech giants like Pornhub. Allegations of non-consensual videos of sexual violence and exploitation represent serious breaches of the law. We are calling on the government and police to rethink their unwillingness to apply Canadian law in the digital realm. Our focus must be on protecting the privacy rights of vulnerable women and minors.” — Charlie Angus, Member of the Committee.
The Committee held seven public meetings as part of this study and heard from 40 witnesses, including survivors depicted in intimate images or videos uploaded without their consent; executives of Entreprise MindGeek Canada, the owners of Pornhub; child protection organizations; federal ministers and officials; law enforcement officials; sex worker rights organizations; and specialists and experts in the fields of victim services, Canadian law, cybercrime and pornography. It also received 50 written briefs from members of the public. The witness testimony heard by the Committee is available on the Parliament of Canada’s website.
The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics has 11 members. It is chaired by Chris Warkentin (Grande Prairie—Mackenzie), with vice-chairs Brenda Shanahan (Châteauguay—Lacolle) and Marie-Hélène Gaudreau (Laurentides—Labelle). The other members are Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay), Michael Barrett (Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes), Colin Carrie (Oshawa), Han Dong (Don Valley North), Greg Fergus (Hull—Aylmer), Jacques Gourde (Lévis—Lotbinière), Patricia Lattanzio (Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel), and Francesco Sorbara (Vaughan—Woodbridge).
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