Software used by a Canadian Center for Child Protection has detected 193 instances of child pornography on the Montreal-based pornography site Pornhub, lawmakers heard Monday.

Testifying before the House of Commons Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics committee, Canadian Center for Child Protection executive director Lianna McDonald said digital technology has been weaponized against children.

“Over the last decade there has been an explosion of digital media platforms that generate pornographic content. This coupled with a complete lack of meaningful regulation has created the perfect storm, and it’s children that have been forced to pay a terrible price for this,” said McDonald.

McDonald explained how her organization monitors various online platforms for instances of Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM). Speaking specifically about Pornhub, McDonald testified that their software detected 193 instances of the website hosting CSAM over the past three years.

According to McDonald, there are likely more instances of CSAM on Pornhub because many children who find images of themselves online will often try to handle the situation on their own.

The committee, which includes MPs from all federal parties, will use witness testimony as a foundation as they seek to rewrite laws concerning privacy and reputation to better reflect the digital age.

The focus of the committee has been the Canadian company MindGeek — the parent company and host for Pornhub, which is the most accessed pornography website globally.

In its first meeting, the committee heard from Serena Fleites, who claims she was victimized by MindGeek’s negligence. Fleites said the company had a lack of regard for the laws regarding child pornography and made it difficult to have images of her that had been uploaded to Pornhub removed.

In light of a New York Times report that exposed evidence of child pornography and sexual violence on the pornographic website, Pornhub suspended between nine and 10 million videos posted by unverified users. 

Visa and Mastercard also cut ties with Pornhub in December after Mastercard’s own investigation found allegedly illegal content on the site. 

Pornhub has since denied the allegations of hosting illegal content and asserted they maintain a zero-tolerance policy for CSAM and non-consensual materials. Pornhub says they maintain that every video uploaded is screened by human moderators assisted by software before posting.

In a statement to True North, MindGeek Canada wrote, “When the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s reports CSAM on our platform, we take it extremely seriously. We disable any content identified by them promptly and, in almost every case, we disabled the content in well under 24 hours after the report.”

MindGeek maintains that Pornhub reports every instance of CSAM to the U.S.-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who then sends the report to law enforcement.

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