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Lawmakers Propose Bill Allowing Non-Consensual Victims To Sue Porn Sites

by : Emily Brown on : 11 Dec 2020 14:47
Lawmakers Propose Bill Allowing Non-Consensual Victims To Sue Porn SitesShutterstock

Lawmakers in the US have proposed a bill that would allow victims of sexual assault, trafficking, and revenge porn to sue porn websites which host videos of them. 

The proposal comes after a scathing New York Times article detailed allegations of child abuse and sexual assault videos featured on the popular porn site Pornhub.

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The column claimed there were a number of young girls who appeared on the site without their consent, and that their videos could be downloaded and copied by users even after they were flagged and removed from the site. Pornhub has since changed its policy to prevent downloads.

Porn sitePA Images

The new bill was presented on Wednesday, December 9, by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Republican Senator Josh Hawley.

If passed, the law could make it illegal for sites like Pornhub to ‘knowingly’ distribute videos of sex acts in which either the subjects are coerced or tricked into performing a sex act.

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The law would also apply to videos where the subjects didn’t consent for footage to be shared, and victims would be able to sue websites in civil court for hosting the illegal content.

Lawmakers also proposed that websites should have to have a clear and easy process for people to flag illegal material.

Josh HawleyPA Images

The New York Times article featured an interview with one woman who was trafficked and sexually abused from the age of nine. She told the newspaper that Pornhub became her ‘trafficker’, and that she was ‘still getting sold’ even though she was ‘five years out of that life’.

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Pornhub has denied the claims that it allowed illegal content, and said its change in policies announced this week came as part of an independent review launched in April. As well as banning downloads, the changes mean only verified users will be able to upload content to the website.

In a statement to Business Insider, the company said: ‘Any assertion that we allow CSAM (child sexual abuse material) is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue.’

Senator Hawley responded to Pornhub’s policy changes on Twitter, writing:

If true, then Pornhub has nothing to fear from my legislation allowing victims of fraud, coercion, and sex abuse to sue them.

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In a statement about the bill, Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan stressed that when a ‘deep violation of privacy’ occurs, such as having a person’s intimate images shared without consent, ‘we must have legal avenues in place to empower the individual who has been violated to seek justice’.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.

Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on their website or on their free helpline 0808 800 5005, open 9am–5pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 8am–8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10am–2pm Saturdays.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, child abuse, Pornhub, Revenge Porn, Sex Trafficking

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