Popular porn site xHamster must remove all amateur, sexually explicit videos of people in the Netherlands unless Hammy Media — the Cyprus-based owner of xHamster — can demonstrate that everyone featured has consented, an Amsterdam court ruled(Opens in a new tab). This includes videos with the appearance of candid or secret recordings. If these videos are made outside the Netherlands and there’s no documentation of consent, they must be inaccessible within the Netherlands.
The decision follows complaints made by the agency Expertise Bureau Online Child Abuse (EOKM), who submitted 10 examples of videos where xHamster didn’t obtain proof of consent(Opens in a new tab), Ars Technica reported. These videos were uploaded between 2017 and 2020. Hammy Media argued that since 2021 (following tightened regulations by Mastercard and Visa), only professional producers and verified members can upload content. After a video is uploaded, a moderation team checks the video for illegal content, before it’s posted to the public. Proof of identity and consent must be provided for all performers in the video, and checks are made to assure the uploader is the same person as the performer.
Despite this, judge RA Dudok van Heel said it’s “sufficiently plausible” that xHamster can’t demonstrate that permission has been obtained for people appearing in a large amount of footage on the site. Hammy Media provided consent documentation for one of the 10 videos EOKM cited, and the judge didn’t find that persuasive.
Now, xHamster has three weeks after the ruling to remove the videos, or be subject to fines — €10,000 (around $11,000) per video, which will increase by €500 ($550) per day that the video is still public, up to €30,000 ($33,000). In a press release, EOKM(Opens in a new tab) called this decision a victory. Director of EOKM, Arda Gerkens, stated that they’ll consider taking further steps against other porn sites. Otto Volgant of Dutch law firm Boekx Advocaten said this is a historic ruling with major implications in the adult industry, and referenced when Pornhub removed millions of unverified videos.
The case raises questions, director of public affairs at the U.S. porn industry lobby group Free Speech Coalition, Mike Stabile, told Mashable. Stabile said that xHamster appears to have one of the more rigorous content verification systems in the industry, and there’s no evidence that the site isn’t removing non-consensually distributed content when its reported to them.
“So while I understand the concerns, inside the industry and out, there are thousands of sites, adult and non-adult, that host unverified content — including sites like Twitter,” Stabile said. “No one should have private or copyrighted content distributed without their consent, but I am always concerned when the government specifically targets adult sites for issues that are internet wide.”
xHamster hasn’t yet responded to Mashable’s request for comment.
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