No Minors: Germany May Ban Pornhub, Other Sites For Lack Of Age Verification


Kent Shi Contributor
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German regulators in charge of child protection may issue an order in the coming weeks to block major pornographic websites, including Pornhub and xHamster, for failure to institute age verification checks for their users.

This move came from a two-year campaign to protect minors in Germany from viewing pornographic material by the supervisory body of media in Germany, the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media (KJM), according to WIRED. One of the group’s major responsibilities is to enforce the treaty of child protection signed by all German states.

Regulators at KJM have been fighting to get porn sites to comply with the age verification requirement since September 2019, which may involve the submission of identification documents for users. 

“It’s just for protection of the minors,” said the chairman of the KJM Marc Jan Eumann, noting that the efforts for the blocking order did not derive from a position “against pornography, net neutrality, or freedom of speech,” according to WIRED

They contacted major platforms such as Pornhub, YouPorn, and Xhamster in 2020, requesting proper, compliant age verification systems, according to a German outlet. Both YouPorn and Pornhub are owned by MindGeek. While Eumann did not discuss specifics about their communications, there was either a lack of cooperation or reportedly no response from some of the website’s owners, according to WIRED. (RELATED: MURPHY: Pornography Should Be Banned Because It Incites Violence. Period)

Consequently, the regulators are moving to implement a measure that some may consider drastic blocking all who live in Germany from accessing the aforementioned websites. In practice, this order would have to be carried out by private web providers, including O2, Vodafone, 1&1, and Deutsche Telekom, so that anyone using German internet service will not see the websites when they type in the addresses, according to the Daily Star

However, Eumann has hinted at the difficulties and complications in compelling private companies to enforce the blocking order, which may result in year-long legal battles. The provider companies are “not happy” after being contacted by KJM. Some have even aired their criticism against the measure, according to WIRED. (RELATED: ​​Dozens Of Women Sue Pornhub After It Allegedly Posted Non-Consensual Sex Videos)

Paulita Pappel, the founder of an adult website, claimed that the measure is comparable to censorship that would be a setback for the industry, hurting “smaller companies, queer performers of colour,” according to The Sun.

There are also concerns over the effectiveness of the regulations. The United Kingdom issued age verification in 2017, however it was found that more British teens saw pornographic materials on social media platforms than on porn websites and that many adolescent users bypass the age check via virtual private networks (VPNs) and Tor browsers, according to a survey from Policy & Internet.

Privacy and confidentiality, which were brought up as major concerns in a similar attempt to implement age verification in Canada, could also play a role in Germany. 

But despite these concerns over efficacy, privacy and security, lawmakers in France, Australia, and some U.S. jurisdictions are seriously considering restricting access to pornographic websites. According to a National Institutes of Health study, porn may damage “social relationships, mental health, and sexual performance, as well as negatively affect psychosocial development in childhood and adolescence.” (RELATED: One Million People Globally Sign Petition To Shutdown PornHub Over Sex Trafficking Allegations)