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Politics & Policy

Sasse Calls On DOJ to Investigate Pornhub for Exploitation

Sen. Ben Sasse on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 27, 2018 (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) has sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr, calling on the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into Pornhub and its owner MindGeek for streaming videos of women and girls who have been raped and exploited. Sasse wrote to Barr in his capacity as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight.

The letter points out that Pornhub’s own website boasts of having had more than 42 billion visits in 2019, or an average of about 115 million visits a day, a massive platform that profits in part from videos of exploited women.

In the letter, Sasse notes several examples of known instances in which the site hosted videos created using women and girls who were being trafficked and otherwise abused.

“In October, police in Florida arrested a man trafficking a fifteen-year-old girl, missing from her family for nearly a year, who had been subjected to horrific abuse that included repeated rape and a forced abortion,” the letter states, noting that her trafficker uploaded more than 60 pornographic videos of her to several sites, including Pornhub.

“In another instance, your Department charged the two owners and two other employees of a popular pornographic film production company with a variety of sex trafficking offenses for employing a disturbing array of deceptive and coercive means to force women to make pornography that they later uploaded to Pornhub against their will,” Sasse writes. He is referring here to the company Girls Do Porn, which has been charged with sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion in the course of creating pornographic content.

Based on the fact that Pornhub hosted more than 6.83 million videos uploaded to the site last year alone, Sasse suggests that “these publicized cases clearly represent just the tip of the iceberg of women and children being exploited in videos on Pornhub.” Sasse noted, too, that PayPal cut off services for Pornhub last November, “refusing to facilitate this abuse any longer.”

Last December, four U.S. representatives sent a letter to Barr, asking the DOJ to return to its previous practice of enforcing obscenity laws as a means of reducing hardcore pornography that meets the legal tests for obscenity, especially pornography involving children.

The full text of Sasse’s letter can be found here.


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