EU Designates Pornhub, Stripchat, and XVideos as Very Large Online Platforms, Subject to Stricter Digital Regulations

In a groundbreaking move, the European Union has designated Pornhub, Stripchat, and XVideos as Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) under the Digital Services Act (DSA), imposing stringent regulations on the adult content industry. The decision, announced on Wednesday, brings the three entities into the fold alongside tech giants like Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Elon Musk’s X as platforms with over 45 million average monthly users in the EU.

The landmark Digital Services Act empowers Brussels to closely monitor these platforms’ compliance with rigorous rules, mainly focusing on protecting minors and preventing the dissemination of illegal content.

Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager expressed her support for the designations, emphasising the importance of higher scrutiny and accountability for the algorithms and processes employed by Pornhub, XVideos, and Stripchat.

The move signifies a pivotal step in the EU’s efforts to regulate an industry often criticised for lax age verification mechanisms and the circulation of inappropriate content, including child sexual abuse material and AI-generated revenge porn.

Canadian-owned Pornhub and global webcam service Stripchat, both with EU headquarters in Cyprus, had contested the 45 million monthly user threshold. Despite Pornhub claiming 33 million monthly users in the bloc, the European Commission, relying on alternative data sources, asserted with “reasonable certainty” that their user number methodologies were flawed and exceeded the threshold.

In response, Pornhub maintained its initial claim, stating, “As of July 31, 2023, Pornhub has 33 million average monthly recipients of the service in the European Union.” A senior Commission official confirmed that dialogue with the platforms progressed well despite initial discrepancies.

Moving Markets

Meanwhile, XVideos, a French-owned company registered under a Czech holding, confirmed its monthly visits of 160 million in June, accepting its VLOP designation without contestation.

The VLOP designation triggers new rules for the three companies, focusing on mitigating risks related to illegal content, fundamental rights, and public security. The new obligations will take effect on February 17, 2024, with the Commission slated to review risk mitigation reports by the end of April.

The Commission has indicated that additional platforms, including OnlyFans and Telegram, are under scrutiny, suggesting a broader effort to regulate the digital landscape.

Child protection remains a primary concern for the EU, particularly regarding the absence of practical age verification tools for accessing adult content. The DSA emphasises the enforcement priority of creating a safer online environment for children, but challenges persist in identifying robust technical solutions that also comply with privacy standards.

As VLOPs prepare to comply with the strictest digital regulations, the EU expects all platforms and search engines to adhere to new rules as of February, redesigning their systems to ensure the safety of minors. The Commission acknowledges the difficulties but notes positive progress in platform dialogues, affirming that “they pick up the phone when Europe calls.”


About Post Author