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Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics recommendations on online platforms such as Pornhub

June 18, 2021

On June 17, 2021 – The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in the House of Commons concluded its study and published its report and recommendations on Protection of Privacy and Reputation on Platforms such as Pornhub.

Vancouver Rape Relief provided a brief to the committee and we are pleased with the following recommendations made by the ETHI Committee:

Recommendation 1 concerning liability

That the Government of Canada explore means to hold online platforms liable for any failure to prevent the upload of, or ensure the timely deletion of child sexual abuse material, content depicting non-consensual activity, and any other content uploaded without the knowledge or consent of all parties, including enacting a duty of care, along with financial penalties for non-compliance or failure to fulfil a required duty of care.

Recommendation 10 concerning proactive enforcement of Canadian laws

That the Government of Canada proactively enforce all Canadian laws regarding child sexual abuse material and the posting of non-consensual material and that in particular, it enforce section 3 of An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service by requiring all Internet service providers, as defined in the Act, to report child sexual abuse material directly to an officer, constable or other person employed for the preservation and maintenance of the public peace.

Recommendation 11 concerning accessible mechanisms for the removal of online content

That the Government of Canada develop accessible mechanisms that ensure that Canadians victimized by the posting of an image or video online without their consent on sites like Pornhub have the right to have that content removed immediately and to be given the benefit of the doubt with respect to the non-consensual nature of the content, and that the Government of Canada provide all the necessary resources required to put in place these accessible mechanisms.

Recommendation 12 concerning a potential new pattern of sexual violence

That the Government of Canada work with key stakeholder groups such as Canadian sexual assault centres, women’s rights organizations and representatives from LGBTQ2 communities to determine if the posting of non-consensual material depicting sexual violence on sites like Pornhub is reflective of, and contributing to, a new pattern of sexual violence, and that it report its findings, including recommendations for further action, to Parliament.

Recommendation 13 concerning the accountability of websites regarding the downloading and re-uploading of pornographic content

That the Government of Canada hold accountable websites that allow the downloading and re-uploading of pornographic content that erases the identity of the source material, thereby preventing authorities from assessing those accountable for the material.

Recommendation 14 concerning a new legal framework to impose certain obligations on Internet service providers hosting pornographic content

That the Government of Canada create a legal framework that would compel Internet service providers that host pornographic content to:

  • implement and use available tools to combat the flagrant and relentless re-uploading of illegal content;
  • hire, train and effectively supervise staff to carry out moderation and content removal tasks at an appropriate scale;
  • maintain detailed records of user reports and responses that can be audited by authorities;
  • be legally accountable for content moderation and removal decisions and the harm to individuals that results when efforts are inadequate; and
  • build in and design features that prioritize the best interests and privacy rights of children and vulnerable adults.

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