EU Commission Presses Adult Sites on DSA Compliance

BRUSSELS—In its latest action against adult websites, the European Commission announced Thursday that it has requested further details on protection measures for minors under the Digital Services Act (DSA).

Regulators previously classified Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos as "very large online platforms" (VLOPs), which requires major websites operating in the European Union's digital space to comply with a certain set of DSA provisions that pertain to data protection, privacy and preventing minors from seeing age-restricted materials.

"The commission is requesting the companies to provide more detailed information on the measures they have taken to diligently assess and mitigate risks related to the protection of minors online, as well as to prevent the amplification of illegal content and gender-based violence," reads a statement from the commission. "Among others, the commission is requiring details on age assurance mechanisms adopted by these pornographic platforms."

Based on these statements, regulators are looking at the measures parent companies of these platforms have adopted, especially age assurance mechanisms that are used to verify age.

"Under the DSA, compliance officers must ensure that all systemic risks outlined in the regulation are identified and properly reported on," adds the European Commission's statement. Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos have until July 4 to reply to the commission's request for further details. Incorrect, incomplete or misleading information provided by the three platforms would result in penalties, including fines and further legal scrutiny. 

The parent companies of these platforms sued the European Union in March for classifying them as VLOPs under the Digital Services Act covering the entire bloc.

The cases were filed at the European General Court in Luxembourg. The case numbers are T-138/24, T139/24 and T-134/24.

Under the Digital Services Act, platforms are classified as VLOPs if over 45 million users visit the sites from IP addresses in EU states. Per the act, VLOPs are required to adhere to regulations that require reports on data collection and content moderation practices. The act also stipulates that VLOPs must provide easier methods for national law enforcement accessibility, especially Europol member police agencies. 

"Following their designation as Very Large Online Platforms, Pornhub, Stripchat, and Xvideos are required to comply with the full set of provisions introduced by the DSA, including the assessment and mitigation of risks related to the dissemination of illegal and harmful content, any negative effects on the exercise of fundamental rights and on the protection of minors," the commission's statement adds. 

The platforms submitted their first risk assessments to the European Commission at the end of April 2024. 

Aylo, the parent company of Pornhub, maintains that its platform shouldn't be regulated under the DSA because it has less than 45 million regular visitors from European Union bloc member states.