revenge porn investigation, image based sexual abuse
© Tinnakorn Jorruang

Recently, Pornhub failed to cooperate with revenge porn investigations by CPS, who were questioning why these images are hosted on their platforms

In a victim statement, commercialised porn website, Pornhub (owned by MindGeek) failed to give a statement to CPS about the nature of their website, which allows users to upload content without the consent of the people in the videos.

Catherine* (not her real name) approached Kate Isaacs from the #NotYourPorn campaign last month (September 2019), after police investigations seemed to go nowhere. This movement is fighting to make it illegal for porn websites to host and profit from so-called ‘revenge porn.’

When Catherine finally found the courage to cut contact with her emotionally abusive and controlling ex-boyfriend, she felt relief – until she realised that although she thought the nightmare had ended, it was only just beginning.

Catherine’s ex-boyfriend had secretly recorded sexually intimate videos of the two of them together, and after feeling the scorn from her cutting all ties he uploaded these videos onto Pornhub without her consent or knowledge.

revenge porn investigation, image based sexual abuse

Catherine commented:

“Unbeknownst to me he had taken videos of myself and the two of us whilst we were seeing each other – completely without my knowledge and most certainly without my consent.

“How can you consent to something when you don’t even know it’s happening?”

Currently, in the UK there is no regulation around the commercialised porn industry uploading stolen content without any consent from the subject(s) in the video or photos. In the UK, we’re seeing a trend of iCloud accounts being hacked, or private images being shared and uploaded to porn websites. This stolen content is then marketed through the “leaked sex tape” genre within porn websites, who then make a profit through advertising sales.

MindGeek own around 80% of the commercialised porn industry – with websites such as Pornhub, YouPorn and RedTube. They have offices in London and are UK registered but actively show and profit from Revenge Porn involving unwilling participants. There is no process of asking if the subject(s) of the video have provided consent before the videos are uploaded, nor is there an age check – leaving the website open to profiting from ‘revenge porn’ and child image-based sexual abuse.

Catherine became aware of the videos being on Pornhub after another ex-girlfriend of the boyfriend got in contact with her after he had treated her in the same manipulative manner throughout their relationship. Catherine went onto Pornhub and her worst fears had come true.

She said:

“When I watched them I immediately felt sick and absolutely disgusted in myself, even though I’d done nothing wrong at all it was very hard to shake the feeling of self-disgust. I phoned the police immediately after watching them to report the crime.”

Catherine provided the police with all of the evidence needed, and CPS then investigated the revenge porn allegations further. The police told her that her ex-boyfriend had done this to others in the past and that they already had a warrant out for his arrest with another police force for committing a similar crime.

Ultimately he was getting into relationships with women, filming them without their knowledge, and uploading the videos to Pornhub to make a profit or threatening to send these to family and friends.

CPS needed a statement from Pornhub that described the nature of the website and how videos can be uploaded by anyone who creates an account, with no identification needed. However, after multiple attempts, Pornhub refused to reply, and with increased negligence from Nottinghamshire Constabulary, her case fell through:

“For the better part of a year now Derbyshire Constabulary have been trying to get a statement, a very simple statement regarding the way the website works, without luck. This is one of the reasons why the case has been filed with no charging decision made because they need the statement that Pornhub are refusing to provide.”

The effect this had on Catherine’s life and the other women involved with this man has been incredibly damaging.

Catherine further commented:

“As a human being, Pornhub didn’t care enough to help me get justice and help to protect other girls like me that will inevitably suffer the same fate at either his hands or the hands of others like him. Instead, all they have done is to provide a sick individual with a platform in which to commit the crime without consequence.

They have provided him with a safe place to upload disgusting revenge porn material as he will now be assured that no matter if it is found or not that Pornhub will brush it under the carpet and he won’t be able to get convicted for it. That upsets me greatly.

Nobody should have to go through the degrading nature of someone doing this to them and it certainly should not be treated like it has been by Pornhub.

It does matter, it is serious, it does ruin people’s lives.”

The effect this has on the lives of imaged based sexual abuse victims lives are made significantly worse after being featured on these porn websites. They often can go viral in less than 24 hours, stacking up millions of views from across the globe – all without their consent or knowledge.

Despite being illegal in the UK as of 2015, the Revenge Porn laws have not extended to the porn industry. Although they claim to work quickly when the subject(s) of a video has asked for the video to be removed, by that point the video could have gained millions of shares and downloads.

The #NotYourPorn campaign exists to raise awareness of this massive issue, highlighting that viewing “leaked sex tapes” (illegal stolen content) without the consent of the subject(s) in the video is not only wrong but a complete violation of privacy. We are also campaigning for the government to take action to ensure the porn industry is held to account, and ensure that regulation is put in place for the porn industry to require explicit consent from the subject(s) of the video, including age verification, before being uploaded to their websites. Revenge porn investigation is a sadly necessary thing.

The founder of #NotYourPorn, Kate Isaacs says:

“Police officers are not equipped with the right information to help victims when investigating instances of image-based sexual abuse. We’re seeing increasing instances of police failings, allowing repeat offenders to continue to use Pornhub to make a profit and humiliate their victims.

Pornhub works in the same way as the YouTube model, with users profiting from advertising clicks for uploading videos. This incentive, without any safeguarding or pre-checks in place creates a hotbed of imaged based sexual abuse – with no way to tell whether the person in the video has consented, or is even of legal age. Pornhub makes huge amounts of money from illegal videos just like this every day.

Pornhub clearly sees this as a copyright issue rather than the trauma victims go through trying to get these damaging videos off their website. We’re seeing instances of suicide attempts, job losses and relationship breakdowns as a result of this sexual abuse that Pornhub is actively facilitating – it’s time for change.

Pornhub is actively ignoring the plea of victims – denying they have a sexual image abuse problem. It’s time that the UK Government stepped up and started regulating this hugely profitable industry.”

The #NotYourPorn campaign is currently working with MPs and Ministers to call for tighter laws surrounding porn websites distributing Revenge Porn and Child Pornography. The petition can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/257439.

If you have been affected by imaged based sexual abuse (‘Revenge Porn’) and have been uploaded to a porn website without your consent, please visit the website www.notyourporn.com/victimsupport for more information.

 

Kate Isaacs

kate@notyourporn.com
+07826530667
Twitter: @NotYourPorn #NotYourPorn
www.notyourporn.com

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