March 10, 2020
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, wrote to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, calling for a federal investigation into Pornhub and its owner MindGeek for their involvement in streaming videos of raped and exploited women and children.
“In several notable incidents over the past year, Pornhub made content available worldwide showing women and girls that were victims of trafficking being raped and exploited,” wrote Sasse. “Indeed, the problem of Pornhub streaming content featuring women and children victims of sex trafficking reached the point in November that Paypal cut off services for Pornhub, refusing to facilitate this abuse any longer… Pornhub must not escape scrutiny. I therefore request that the Department open an investigation into Pornhub and its parent entity MindGeek Holding SARL for their involvement in this disturbing pipeline of exploiting children and other victims and survivors of sex trafficking.”
Sasse’s full letter is available here and can be found below:
Dear General Barr,
The foremost duty of the Department of Justice is to ensure the safety of the American people, especially the most vulnerable among us. In that vein, I write to you today regarding the exploitation of human trafficking victims in pornography streamed over the internet. Action must be taken.
Pornhub is a website dedicated to the sharing and streaming of pornographic videos on the internet. The website, owned by the Luxembourg-registered, Canadian-headquartered firm MindGeek Holding SARL, currently ranks as the thirty-fourth most popular website visited in United States. As the website itself boasts:
In 2019 there were over 42 Billion visits to Pornhub, which means there was an average
of 115 million visits per day. One-Hundred-Fifteen Million – that’s the equivalent of the
populations of Canada, Australia, Poland and the Netherlands all visiting in one day!
Pornhub’s incredible reach has a much darker side than the image of harmless fun that it tries to project. In several notable incidents over the past year, Pornhub made content available worldwide showing women and girls that were victims of trafficking being raped and exploited. In October, police in Florida arrested a man trafficking a fifteen-year-old girl, missing from her family for nearly a year, who had been subjected to horrific abuse that included repeated rape and a forced abortion. In the course of his abuse, her trafficker uploaded more than sixty videos depicting her sexual exploitation to websites including Pornhub. In another instance, your Department charged the two owners and two other employees of a popular pornographic film production company with a variety of sex trafficking offenses for employing a disturbing array of deceptive and coercive means to force women to make pornography that they later uploaded to Pornhub against their will. Indeed, the problem of Pornhub streaming content featuring women and children victims of sex trafficking reached the point in November that PayPal cut off services for Pornhub, refusing to facilitate this abuse any longer.
Pornhub streams a massive amount of content, as the website itself trumpets:
[T]here were over 39 billion searches performed, which is 8.7 billion more searches
than last year. . . . In 2019 there was a record amount of video uploads, over 6.83 million
new videos were uploaded to Pornhub. To put this in perspective – if you strung all of
2019’s new video content together and started watching them way back in 1850, you’d
still be watching them today! In 2019, Pornhub transferred 6597 petabytes of data, which
was about 18,073 terabytes per day, and 209 gigabytes per second! To put this in
perspective, if you copied all of 2019’s transferred data onto hard drives and stacked
them, they would reach 100km high to the edge of space. . . . . Every minute on Pornhub
in 2019 . . . . [t]here were 80,032 visits, 77,861 searches, and 219,985 video views.
Every minute, there was an average of 2.8 hours of content uploaded to Pornhub – that
means that every 9 minutes or so, an entire days’ worth of video was uploaded to
In light of this data, these publicized cases clearly represent just the tip of the iceberg of women and children being exploited in videos on Pornhub. I applaud the actions that the Department has already undertaken under your leadership on this issue, but Pornhub must not escape scrutiny. I therefore request that the Department open an investigation into Pornhub and its parent entity MindGeek Holding SARL for their involvement in this disturbing pipeline of exploiting children and other victims and survivors of sex trafficking.
Chairman, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts