French court dismisses suit seeking to block Pornhub, YouPorn and Redtube

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French Court Rejects Age Verification Case

A French court has rejected a lawsuit filed by two child protection organizations, which were seeking to force telecommunications companies to block porn sites, including Pornhub, xHamster, YouPorn and Redtube.

e-Enfance (which translates to “e-Childhood”) and La Voix de l’Enfant (“The Voice of the Child”) filed the suit against communication providers that include Orange, SFR and Bouygues Télécom. The groups argued, much as other activist groups have in other countries, that age verification systems for nine large porn websites were not robust enough, and that the communications companies should totally block them.

In the suit the two non-profit organisations said that the porn sites, which also included TuKif, XNXX, and XVideos, didn’t go far enough to ensure age verification, with some simply having a check box to confirm whether the user was over the age of 18.

Other French telecommunication companies named in the suit included Free Colt Technologies Services and Outre mer Télécomare. The suit was dismissed last Friday, according to Reuters.

An Unexpected Decision?

The dismissal marked a minor victory for major porn sites such as MindGeek-owned Pornhub, which are facing increased legal and political pressure about their content globally. It’s also a decision that goes against the general tide of stricter age verification rules in other countries.

34 women are suing Pornhub in the US, claiming they were exploited by having explicit videos hosted on the site without their consent. The site has overhauled its uploading and creator verification processes in an attempt to come into line with tougher regulations plus rules from credit card firms and other financial organizations.

However, the French court’s dismissal is unlikely mark the end of pressure in the country to block porn sites. A new French government decree is set to give the Senior Audiovisual Council (CSA), which regulates electronic media in the country, powers to instigate blocking procedures without a judge’s approval.

Previously if the CSA wanted to block a site, the organization needed judiciary approval. Following the new decree, if a porn site is not perceived to be doing enough to prevent minors from accessing it, the CSA can send the offending site a formal notice.

Once a company receives the notice, the sites or companies will have 15 days to make changes to shore up their age verification measures to prevent those aged under 18 accessing explicit content. If they don’t make sufficient changes, they face being blocked.

In the United Kingdom sites and apps that host adult videos, such as OnlyFans, TikTok and Snapchat, are set to come under tougher new rules for age verification.

Under new measures being implemented by Britain’s Office of Communications (Ofcom), sites and online services hosting porn content will have to have “robust age-verification” in place to fall in line with the rules.

Read next: ‘You need us more than we need you’: Creators’ trust in OnlyFans eroded

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