EU Imposes Strictest Online Content Regulations on Three Pornographic Websites

Back in April, the EU announced an initial list of 17 so called very large online platforms (VLOPs) and two very large online search engines (VLOSE) designated under the DSA. The addition of the three platforms designated today changes that. age verification, not self declaration) prior to accessing content — but that could be set to change in the region as a result of the trio being designated VLOPs. Today we designate 3 additional very large online platforms. Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos meet the user thresholds to fall under stricter #DSA obligations.

Moderating adult content on the internet has long been a hot topic, with concerns about minors accessing inappropriate material. And now, it seems that the European Union is taking serious steps to regulate this issue. Three of the world’s top adult content sites, Pornhub, Stripchat, and XVideos, have been added to a list of platforms subject to the strictest level of regulation under the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA).

In April, the EU originally announced a list of 17 “very large online platforms” (VLOPs) and two “very large online search engines” (VLOSE) designated under the DSA, but it did not include any adult content sites. However, the recent addition of the three aforementioned platforms changes that.

“Per Wikipedia – which ironically enough was already named a VLOP in the first wave of Commission designations – XVideos and Pornhub are the number one and number two visited adult content sites in the world.”

As the number one and number two visited adult content sites in the world, it comes as no surprise that XVideos and Pornhub were added to the list. In addition, Stripchat, an adult webcam platform that livestreams nude performers, was also designated as a VLOP.

Currently, visitors to these websites are not required to undergo a hard age check (i.e. age verification, not self declaration) prior to accessing content. However, as a result of being designated as VLOPs, this could be set to change in the region.

The DSA imposes extra obligations on designated (larger) platforms with more than 45 million monthly average users in the region, including obligations to protect minors. In a press release, the EU stated, “VLOPs must design their services, including their interfaces, recommender systems, and terms and conditions, to address and prevent risks to the well-being of children.”

“The Commission, which is responsible for overseeing VLOPs’ compliance with the DSA, also reiterated today that creating a safer online environment for children is an enforcement priority.”

The Commission also expressed their commitment to creating a safer online environment for children, making it a top enforcement priority. According to Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, “Today we designate 3 additional very large online platforms. Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos meet the user thresholds to fall under stricter #DSA obligations.”

The DSA also requires VLOPs to document and analyze any “specific systemic risks” their services may pose with regard to the dissemination of illegal and harmful content, such as child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and content affecting fundamental rights. This includes producing risk assessment reports and implementing mitigation measures to address these risks.

Other DSA obligations for VLOPs include ensuring a high level of privacy, safety, and child protection on their platforms, as well as promptly informing law enforcement of any illegal activity on their sites. These obligations must be met by late April for the three recently designated adult content VLOPs.

While the DSA applies to the EU and EEA, the UK has its own Online Safety Act (OSA) for regulating internet content. This includes even stricter penalties for breaches than the EU, and a strong emphasis on child protection. The newest guidance from UK Internet content watchdog, Ofcom, for porn sites states they must carry out “highly effective” age checks, with methods such as uploading a copy of a passport or undergoing an AI age assessment.

As technology develops and regulations are put in place, it is clear that age verification for adult content sites will become increasingly important. The EU’s designation of Pornhub, Stripchat, and XVideos as VLOPs is only the beginning in creating a safer online environment for children.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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