Government BANS PornHub, xHamster

 Pornhub and xHamster are set to be blocked in Germany after the sites' lack of cooperation in implementing age verification checks.


The blocking order may be issued in the coming weeks by the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media and would lead to the sites becoming inaccessible to 83 million Germans.

The group is responsible for enforcing a broad treaty agreed upon by all states, around the protection of children. 

It comes amid an ongoing campaign to have all pornographic websites in Germany implement age verification checks, with officials currently taking action against four major pornography websites, WIRED reported. 

While KJM chairman, Marc Jan Eumann, refused to confirm the four websites the groups is taking legal action against, German reporting says the cases are against xHamster and three websites, YouPorn, Pornhub and MyDirtyHobby.

The latest crackdown reportedly follows a failure by the site, believed to be xHamster, to introduce age verification checks to prevent under 18s from accessing pornography.

It was thought that all of the four websites had been accused of failing to introduce age verification systems.

Meanwhile, regulators around the world, including in Canada, France, the UK and some US states, are looking to introduce more measures aimed at preventing children from accessing adult material online.

They have been looking at trying to force pornographic websites to introduce age verification checks, since 2019. 

There was reportedly no response from xHamster’s owners. As a result of the lack of cooperation, the order issuing the site to be blocked was expected in coming weeks. 

LEGAL ACTION AGAINST FOUR WEBSITES

In practicality, this would mean issuing a blocking order to Germany's biggest web providers – including Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, O2 and 1&1 – asking that they block the website for people trying to access it in Germany.

German web companies could challenge blocking orders through the country’s legal systems, meaning the battle over age verification could be dragged out for years to come. It wasn’t the first time the internet providers were asked, and refused to block the sites voluntarily.

“We've already talked to them, they are not happy,” Eumann said.

A blanket censorship of certain porn sites within countries wasn’t a new concept; in 2017,  the Philippines government censored Pornhub just days after the website revealed Filipinos spent more time on its website than any other nationality.

Despite this, the sweeping ban thought to be on the horizon for Germany was still  considered one of the most drastic measures taken so far, with critics comparing it to censorship. 

Paulita Pappel, the co-founder of adult site Lustery and the curator of the Pornfilmfestival Berlin, said such moves are “comparable to China's censorship”. They could put the pornography industry back decades in terms of its reputation, she said.

She also worried the focus on age verification will filter down to adult companies with less resources to implement them. “Smaller companies, queer performers of colour, these are the people that are going to suffer the most.”

While blanket bans remain unusual, the idea of age verification is taking off around the world. 

Europe’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive requires companies to put measures in place to protect children, a bill in Canada is looking to introduce age verification and Australia has recommended using digital IDs to access pornography.

In 2017, the UK passed the Digital Economy Act, which required adult websites to implement age verification technology for all visitors from the UK. However, the law was delayed multiple times before collapsing altogether in October 2019.


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