Over the last year, Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, ignited public outcry against the prevalence of content users posted to their sites featuring sexual violence, nonconsensual pornography, and sex trafficking. Activists, journalists, and legislators allege that Pornhub and similar pornography sites are apathetic toward the victims in these videos and photos while profiting from the ad revenue such content brings to their sites. In December 2021, Senator Josh Hawley proposed the Survivors of Human Trafficking Fight Back Act, proposing to add criminal penalties and a federal cause of action against websites that either post or refuse to remove criminal pornography from their sites. This Note examines the arguments for and against legislation penalizing pornography websites for posting or hosting content of featuring sexual violence through a feminist lens. This style of legislation, which nobly aims to protect survivors of sexual violence, will likely appear again in Congress. This Note argues that Congress should not pass these bills because they subject transactional sex workers and pornography performers to economic and physical harm, making it an ineffective and misguided method to address the core harms of digital sexual exploitation.
Taylor Comerford, Pornography Isn't the Problem: A Feminist Theoretical Perspective on the War Against Pornhub, 63 B.C. L. Rev. 1177 (2022), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol63/iss3/9