Pornhub, Big Tech and the Silent Victims of COVID-19

By Perry Roach, Netsweeper CEO

At Netsweeper, our data shows that COVID-19 has been big business for child exploitation. So, I wasn’t surprised to see news reports about the alleged non-consensual porn, child-sex abuse and rape on the website Pornhub — a Quebec-based company with a huge global following.

It’s good to see people waking up to what has been a growing problem for years — and a problem that’s been on fire since COVID-19 showed up. Netsweeper monitors and sorts the 150 million new websites that come online each and every day for clients, and our data shows child exploitation sites have quadrupled since the pandemic began. I was speaking with the head of IT for a major international police force recently, and he supported our findings.

With vaccines moving now, we will eventually put COVID-19 behind us as health care systems and economies recoup. However, the silent child victims may never recover. So, beyond paying lip service, what are we doing as a society to recognize and truly address the problem?

The G20 leaders recently said the rule of law we follow in the everyday offline world must be applied online in the same way. In other words, the law is the law. As Edward Snowden recently said, “the internet is real life.” And yet, this life-altering crisis gets next to no coverage until Pornhub becomes part of the story, Visa and Mastercard take action and groups start parliamentary petitions, as we are seeing now in Canada.

So, let’s have a grown-up conversation about this issue. It’s not the “internet” that is the bad guy in this narrative. That would be like blaming the existence of highways for car accidents. Instead, look to the big technology companies operating on the internet to generate immense profits at any cost. They are the ones that need to be regulated and policed. It’s their platforms and their data being used to exploit people in criminal ways. Whatever drives clicks and traffic drives profits — and profits appear to be paramount.

Continue reading the full article in the Toronto Star.