Pornhub VP on India's Ridiculous Internet 'Porn Block' by Uttarakhand court

Pornhub VP on India’s Ridiculous Internet ‘Porn Block’ by Uttarakhand court

Pornhub, one of the leading websites in the world that hosts adult content, was banned in India after an Uttarakhand court took suo motu notice of news reports about the gangrape of a minor girl in a boarding school in Dehradun and instituted a ‘porn block’ program.

“Unlimited access to these pornographic sites is required to be blocked / curbed to avoid adverse influence on the impressionable mind of the children,” the court ruled, citing a 2015 notification issued by the central government.

As a result, 827 sites were banned in India, while thousand others continue to operate.

In an email interview with HuffPost India, Pornhub Vice-President Corey Price spoke about how the ban has affected the site’s traffic numbers, how they plan to make a comeback in the Indian market and where the lowbrow/sleazy porn in India is coming from.

Edited excerpts:

The Uttarakhand court verdict argues that porn is negatively influencing children, citing a recent case of gang rape in a school as an example. How do you counter that?

There is no evidence of such allegations. If the court truly believed this, then why didn’t they ban all adult entertainment sites? The court banned the larger sites and left many smaller sites, including ones that offer illegal content.

With heightened sensitisation and more conversations about consent, has Pornhub seen a spike in women-friendly porn or a downward trend in porn that is violent in nature?

We’ve seen a dramatic increase in female visitors to Pornhub. In fact, India’s female visitors increased the most out of any other country in 2017 compared to 2016—by 129%. To accommodate the increase in female visitors—particularly given our 2017 Year In Review which found that ‘Porn for Women’ was the top trending search for the year, increasing by more than 1,400% year over year—we announced the launch of our “Popular With Women” category, which automatically curates content catered to female-specific interests. The “Popular With Women” category features videos that females most often watch and favourite.

From a legal point of view, is Pornhub planning to fight the ban in a higher court?

While Pornhub opposes government overreach with regards to censorship and were ultimately disappointed in the ruling, we are willing to work alongside the Indian government to address any concerns they have and help rectify the situation as swiftly and effectively as possible.

Can you elaborate, in terms of traffic numbers, how much Pornhub has been affected since the ban?

Per our ‘2017 Year in Review Insights’ post, India ranked 3rd in traffic by country. As for how traffic has been impacted by the government’s decision, it’s still too early to determine the full extent of the impact, but traffic has declined.

Has Pornhub tried reaching out to the Indian government to formulate a plan in which the site can operate in the country?

Yes, we’ve reached out to the Indian government to together reach a solution that addresses all of their concerns. In the meantime, while we wait to hear back, we’ve launched a mirror site—www.pornhub.net—which isn’t blocked.

According to reports, Pornhub in Russia decided to invoke a rule that involves users signing in to Pornhub with their social media accounts so the age verification is taken care of. Is this something Pornhub is exploring in India as a means to stay in the market? If yes, wouldn’t that run the risk of the site being used as a tool of surveillance?

In order to comply with Russian access laws, we found that requiring users to verify their age through their social media accounts to be the most effective solution. To be clear, Pornhub does not log or store any personal information, this is just a check to confirm users are over 18 as is required to engage with content hosted on our site. On the social media account’s end, all they see is see the request from that user, they absolutely will not know what that user browsed on Pornhub. We are hopeful that we’ll be able to come to a similar solution for our users in India.

HuffPost India

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