Owner of Pornhub settles sex trafficking probe with US government for $1.8M

Aylo Holdings, the parent company of Pornhub, has agreed to a $1.8 million settlement with the U.S. government to resolve allegations of profiting from sex trafficking. The company, previously known as MindGeek, will enter a deferred prosecution agreement, appointing a monitor to oversee its compliance for the next three years.

The issue at hand revolves around the negligence of Pornhub and other Aylo-owned adult content sites in moderating third-party uploads of adult content. This negligence has led to the portrayal of victims of sex trafficking in adult videos without their consent.

The focus of the investigation by the Eastern District of New York’s Attorney’s Office is on a network called GirlsDoPorn (GDP), which has been posting videos on Pornhub and other Aylo websites since 2009. In 2019, a federal grand jury in the Southern District of California indicted GDP for sex trafficking. Aylo, formerly MindGeek, has admitted to profiting from GDP’s content, despite being aware or should have been aware that many women did not consent to being filmed and that these videos were shared without their knowledge.

The U.S. Attorney Breon Pearce stated that the resolution will not only provide oversight over Aylo but also contribute to the development of industry-wide standards for safety and compliance.

In 2020, Pornhub implemented several new features to address these issues, including banning video downloads and requiring users to be verified to post videos. The company also hired a law firm to conduct an independent review of its content compliance.

Aylo has been through turmoil recently, with the sale to a new private equity firm and the departure of its CEO and COO. Furthermore, Pornhub, Stripchat, and XVideos have been added to a list of platforms subjected to the strictest regulation under the European Union’s Digital Services Act.

In the U.S., several states have imposed age verification checks for adult websites. Pornhub initially required users to verify their age with the LA Wallet app, a digital wallet for Louisiana state driver licenses. However, it has now blocked access in some states entirely.

Privacy advocates have voiced concerns about the impact of these measures on anonymity online, as sharing government IDs to access the internet could compromise privacy. This creates a dilemma for lawmakers as they try to balance internet regulation and safety without creating new problems.

As the dust settles on this issue, it is clear that Aylo Holdings, and the adult content industry as a whole, will undergo significant regulatory changes to prioritize safety and compliance and protect individuals from exploitation.


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