EU Imposes Stricter Regulations on Major Pornography Sites, Contemplating Age Verification Technology

Pornhub, Xvideos, and Stripchat Face Intensified Scrutiny as Very Large Online Platforms

In a landmark development, three of the globe’s largest adult entertainment websites—Pornhub, Xvideos, and Stripchat—have been formally notified that their users within the European Union (EU) may soon be obligated to employ age verification technology. This directive follows the revelation that these platforms collectively host a staggering 45 million monthly users in EU member countries, prompting the imposition of more rigorous regulations under EU guidelines. The primary aim of these measures is to fortify safeguards preventing minors from accessing explicit content.

Elevated Obligations Under EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA)

The triumvirate of adult entertainment platforms now bears the designation of Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) under the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), subjecting them to heightened legal responsibilities, particularly in content moderation. EU Digital Commissioner Margrethe Vestager expressed contentment with this classification, underscoring its potential to enhance scrutiny and accountability concerning the platforms’ algorithms and operational processes.

Age Verification Technology as a Potential Remedy

A spokesperson from the European Commission unveiled a prospective measure to deter minors from accessing explicit content—implementing age verification tools. The spokesperson also alluded to the forthcoming European Digital Identity wallet as a plausible solution for individuals to seamlessly verify their age. Once operational, this digital identity wallet will provide a user-friendly avenue for EU citizens, residents, and businesses to substantiate their identity and securely share electronic documents.

Stringent Requirements for Adult Entertainment Platforms

Within the next four months, the trio of identified VLOPs—Pornhub, Xvideos, and Stripchat—must diligently adhere to an array of legal stipulations. These include implementing supplementary measures to combat the dissemination of illicit content, such as child sexual abuse material and deepfake pornography. Furthermore, these platforms are mandated to bolster protections against minors accessing their sites, incorporating robust age verification tools. To ensure compliance, external and independent audits will scrutinize their risk assessments and adherence to all DSA obligations.

Enforcement Authority of the EU Commission

Guaranteeing compliance with the newly instated, more stringent regulations falls upon the EU Commission. In cases of non-compliance, the Commission wields the authority to impose fines amounting to up to 6% of the companies’ global turnover. This underscores the gravity of the EU’s commitment to enforcing regulations aimed at shielding minors and combatting the propagation of illicit content.

Second Wave of Very Large Online Platforms

These three adult entertainment platforms represent the second cohort of companies categorized as VLOPs under the DSA. In April, the inaugural batch encompassed 19 tech giants, including Facebook, Google, and YouTube, all apprised of the applicability of the new regulations. For the first group, the DSA came into effect in August, ushering in a new era of heightened corporate responsibility and accountability.

Initiation of Enforcement Proceedings Under DSA

Emphasizing the EU’s unwavering commitment to strict enforcement, X (Twitter), from the initial batch, recently faced allegations of violating its obligations under the DSA. The EU launched enforcement proceedings against X, citing suspected lapses in combating disinformation. This landmark development marks the initiation of enforcement actions under the legislation, underscoring the EU’s commitment to upholding a secure and transparent online environment.

As the EU takes decisive measures to regulate online platforms, the potential implementation of age verification technology on major pornography sites signals a broader commitment to fostering a safer digital space, particularly for vulnerable audiences.