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European Activist, NGOs Request DSA Reclassification of Top Adult Tube Sites

BRUSSELS — A group of European NGOs co-signed a letter penned by an Italian digital rights attorney and activist, urging the European Commission to investigate the self-reported data of the top adult sites in order to potentially reclassify them as “Very Large Online Platforms” (VLOPs) for the purposes of enforcing the Digital Services Act (DSA).

A coalition of 30 groups — including AccessNow, Center for Democracy and Technology, European Digital Rights, the European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance and others — joined the campaign led by Alessandro Polidoro, an Italian lawyer who has been attempting to create European liability under the new legislation against Pornhub, Xvideos and other tube sites.

Polidoro has been actively promoting a #StopDataPorn campaign, alleging that tube sites engage in “systemic violation of data protection law.”

In June, Polidoro told Wired magazine that he believes Pornhub “doesn’t allow people to easily opt out of being tracked by cookies; the site isn’t clear about the data it shares with third parties; and its algorithm ‘assigns’ people sexual preferences, based on the videos they watch.”

In his letter to the EU sent on behalf of the NGOs, and which was first reported Monday by the Euractiv news site, Polidoro alleges that the self-reported data provided by the tube sites shows “surprisingly small numbers that have allowed them to temporarily elude the designation as VLOPs”.

According to the DSA rules, Euractive explained, “online platforms with more than 45 million users monthly in the European Union entail a ‘systemic risk’ for society; hence they must follow a specific regime, including transparency and risk management obligations.”

An Activist Whose Law Firm Would Stand to Make a Fortune

As XBIZ reported, last week several non-specifically-adult platforms and companies published their first DSA transparency reports regarding moderation. They include companies designated “Very Large Online Platforms” and “Very Large Online Search Engines” according to DSA definitions. The first seven platforms to publish the reports were Amazon, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, Zalando and Bing. Other companies have until Nov. 6 to do so, although Meta published its reports for Facebook and Instagram on Friday.

The European Commission is expected to release a second batch of systemic platforms that it plans to target for DSA enforcement before the end of 2023.

Euractiv reported that last week XVideos “admitted that every month they have more than 160 million users in the EU.”

The figure, which would clearly qualify that tube site as a VSOP under DSA rules, is considerably higher than the 33 million monthly users each declared by both Pornhub and XHamster, and the seven million declared by YouPorn.

Polidoro’s letter claims those low figures “seem to be a misinterpretation” and directly accuses the tube sites of “actively attempting to dodge their responsibilities and not be held accountable for the systemic risks existing on their platforms.”

Polidoro, whose legal practice would stand to make a fortune if his theories were to be endorsed by EU officials, told Euractiv that his letter aims to “show to the European Commission that in the upcoming round of designations for very large online platforms, they cannot leave these platforms out of the picture.”


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