The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics met on Friday to hear testimony from CEO Feras Antoon and COO David Tassillo of MindGeek, Pornhub’s parent company.
MindGeek is currently facing accusations of knowingly hosting and profiting from content involving child sex abuse and sex trafficking victims.
Antoon and Tassillo appeared before the committee for two hours of questioning.
“As a leader in this industry, we share the committee’s concern about the spread of unlawful content online and the sharing of non-consensual sharing of intimate images. It goes against everything we stand for at MindGeek and Pornhub,” said Antoon.
“While we have remained steadfast in our commitment to protect our users and the public, we recognize that we could have done more in the past and we must do more in the future.”
Alberta MP Arnold Viersen was one of the committee members who put forward questions to the executives during the hearing.
“I’ve read your brief and I’m astounded you would come here and claim you are world leaders in child protection,” said Viersen.
Viersen brought up Serena Fleites, who had testified before the committee on Monday and alleges Pornhub repeatedly neglected to remove an explicit video of her taken when she was 13 years old. “On Tuesday, after Serena’s testimony, you’ve announced new safety measures. Where were these safety measures when Serena needed them?”
Before the hearing, Pornhub suspended between 9 and ten million videos posted by unverified users. Visa and Mastercard cut ties with Pornhub in December after Mastercard’s own investigation allegedly found illegal content on the site.
Pornhub denied the allegations of hosting illegal content and asserted every video uploaded is screened before posting.
MP Charlie Angus contested MindGeek’s claims of heavy moderation and zero tolerance for illegal content.
“We’re not interested in adult pornography, what adults do in their room. The committee’s job is whether or not big tech is respecting their legal obligations,” said Angus.
“In the case of Rose Columba and her torture, the videos were listed as ‘passed out teen.’ Your moderators viewed this, because you told us every video is viewed. Wouldn’t you think that someone in your organization would’ve said a video of the torture of a fourteen-year-old girl is in contravention of the child pornography laws?”
When asked about their profits, personal income, amount of money paid out in settlements to victims, copies of previous independent reviews of the company and training methods for video screening, both Antoon and Tassillo chose to withhold those details and asserted they are internal company matters that they did not want to disclose to the committee.
The committee used its parliamentary privileges to request that those documents be submitted for their report.
The meeting ended with a call for witnesses to come forward under the legal protection of parliamentary privilege with any information regarding MindGeek’s practices.