#NotYourPorn Is The Campaign Fighting To Get Non-Consensual Content Removed From UK Porn Sites

Kate Isaacs

Over the last few years, conversations surrounding consent have, thankfully, become more and more commonplace. But, unfortunately, those conversations have rarely addressed the full extent of the issue, especially when it comes to the internet. The sad reality is many of us have at least heard stories about revenge porn or sexually explicit images being spread without full consent from everyone involved. Campaigner and activist Kate Isaacs knows all too well the devastation that this can leave and she’s calling a stop to it. I spoke to her about her #NotYourPorn campaign, how she believes porn sites profit from revenge porn, and what we can do to help stop it.

Watching porn is a regular occurrence for lots of people. However, it may never crossed have any of our minds that the videos we watch on mainstream porn websites might have been posted non-consensually.

“This could happen to anyone. People aren’t just targeting celebrities,” says Isaacs, who founded the #NotYourPorn campaign in May 2019. The campaign aims to change attitudes towards revenge porn and hold porn websites to account. Speaking about their aims, Isaacs says they want to “regulate the commercialised porn industry and put legislation in place to make it illegal to profit and host revenge porn, so anything that isn’t consensual.”

She continues:

“[Revenge porn] is a massive tool of oppression. It can completely ruin your life. You can lose your job, you can lose your partner. It’s not something to be taken lightly.”

Isaacs now fights to protect the rights of people who have been the victims of revenge porn. However, the #NotYourPorn campaign is also deeply personal to her.

Kate Isaacs

Isaacs founded the campaign after a friend received messages on Instagram informing her that someone had posted a sexually explicit video of her onto PornHub (a porn site owned by MindGeek) from years before. Someone had hacked into Isaacs' friend's iCloud account and taken videos, images, and her full name to post onto the porn site.

“We got in contact with PornHub to get [the video] pulled down and they did ... But PornHub has a download function,” says Isaacs. “Her full name was on there and it had already gone viral. It was within the top five before anyone could get it pulled down and it had been downloaded thousands of times. So, now if you go on there and type her full name in, there are about five or six of the same video. Every time a video gets pulled down about six more pop up with her full name again.”

I reached out to MindGeek, and a representative at PornHub advised that their site uses a "state-of-the-art third party digital fingerprinting software, which scans any new uploads for potential matches to unauthorised material and makes sure the original video doesn’t go back up on the platform." They continued: "Anyone who digitally fingerprints their content is then protected from having their video uploaded by unauthorised parties. It is completely free and strongly encouraged to fingerprint content, more information can be found here."

Speaking specifically about the incident involving Isaacs' friend, PornHub said: "We were in touch with Kate Isaac’s friend in hopes that we could help her fingerprint the content, to avoid having the video reuploaded. We are still awaiting key details to properly rectify the situation, namely the Pornhub Support ticket number, in order to accurately track the video, and look forward to solving this issue together."

In response to this, Isaacs tells me that the content has "been flagged to their systems several times" but "the fractured communication system at Pornhub has meant this has become an increasingly excruciating process."

In March 2018, PornHub announced that they would be using a software called "AgeID" to verify their users were 18 or older once The Digital Economy Act (including the so-called "Porn Block") was implemented, according to the Huffington Post. The act was set to come into effect in April 2019, but the launch date has been postponed. However, while watchers' ages will be verified on PornHub via this technology, Isaacs is concerned that "there’s nothing in the upload system which checks if the content is consensual or legally of age."

In their Terms of Service, PornHub places the responsibility on the uploader to affirm they own and have permission to distribute the content, as well as that they aren't in contravention of any local laws. In the UK, this would include anything that could be classified as "revenge porn" and anything involving people under the age of 18. In their statement to me, PornHub stated that any content that "directly violates [their] Terms of Service is removed as soon as [they] are made aware of it, and this includes non-consensual content."

Isaacs acknowledges that sites such as PornHub are "technically hosting the material rather than uploading it themselves," but argues that, by hosting it, these sites allows the content to "[spread] so much quicker" and "because of the download function, it basically means it’s going to exist on their website forever."

For Isaacs, it comes down to one thing: "They’re profiting from it and they’re a UK-registered company. I think it’s absolutely horrific that they’re allowed to get away with that." She also states: "They have entire genres called leaked sex tapes and revenge porn. It’s horrific and they know what they’re doing."

In a statement, PornHub reiterated the site's commitment to supporting victims of revenge porn and endorsing legislation which makes it illegal. "Here at Pornhub, we stand alongside victims of revenge porn who are demanding justice against perpetrators. Through the years, we have supported legislation that has made revenge porn illegal and have also worked directly alongside local authorities on individual cases to assist in prosecution."

Issacs explains that she believes the issue needs to be discussed in government, but "MPs just don’t want to get involved," she says. "No one wants to be the porn MP."

However, Isaacs hopes her campaign will force the government into action. Visitors to the Take Action page on #NotYourPorn's website can send an email to their MP asking them to lay an early day motion in parliament, contact the law commission to review existing laws, and bring the issue of revenge porn directly to the attention of the Secretary of State for Justice. "Spreading the word that what you might be watching as a consumer might not even be legal is so important," Isaacs says. "We have a hashtag, so tweeting about it, and talking to your friends and family about it is not the most fun conversation to have but it’s a really important one."

There’s no denying that Isaacs and the #NotYourPorn campaign team are seriously passionate about what they're doing. To find out more visit their website and social media.

Correction: A previous version of this article mischaracterised PornHub's implementation of AgeID software. AgeID has been live in Germany since 2015.