It’s Time To End The Porn Industry’s Exploitative ‘Candid Cameras’

It’s Time To End The Porn Industry’s Exploitative ‘Candid Cameras’

As a child back in the 1960s and 70s, long before iPhones and Androids, I watched an old TV show called “Candid Camera.” In the show, a hidden camera would record people’s reactions to often outrageous, but innocent behaviors or situations, and then play them back to the television audience to laugh at with their friends and family.

Unfortunately, more than 50 years later, ‘candid cameras’ are no longer used to induce laughter. Instead, they’re used to cruelly exploit and traumatize innocent individuals who have no idea that their privacy is being violated by those who post sexually provocative images of them – without their consent – for the world to see on the Internet.

It was recently reported that police were investigating a situation involving female members of the University of Wisconsin-Madison women’s volleyball team who had “private photos” they never intended to be shared publicly posted online.

While thankfully the university reports that most of these images have been removed from the internet, this incident comes on the heels of another one, where members of a female college field hockey team were secretly filmed showering and changing in a locker room. It was all allegedly filmed by the intramural/summer conference director of a college in South Carolina. The video, which showed the young women in all stages of undress, was then uploaded to the notorious internet pornography sites XHamster and Pornhub – which monetized their exploitation.

This type of ‘candid camera’ and the subsequent distribution of the illicit material should make us angry – and determined to make those who sexually exploited these young women for profit be held accountable for their actions.

These incidents are examples of what is known as Image-Based Sexual Abuse, or IBSA. And thankfully, organizations such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) are coming to the defense of those who have found sexually explicit images of themselves posted on the internet without their consent through litigation and legislation in order to bring an end to this heinous form of exploitation.

NCOSE has joined a lawsuit, Jane Does 1-9 v. Murphy et al, brought by the Bell Legal Group, LLC and Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd, & Conway, suing XHamster and Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek, both which took no actions to verify the age and consent of the female field hockey players before they posted the video, and to secure justice for these victimized young women.

In the words of NCOSE Senior Legal Counsel Dani Pinter, “Pornography tube sites like XHamster and Pornhub have no financial incentive to remove potentially illegal material, so they don’t. The women’s lack of consent was the point … MindGeek and XHamster fetishized this condemnable invasion of privacy and profited from it. This lawsuit seeks to hold them accountable.”

The exploitation of these female athletes is also compelling evidence as to why Congress needs to pass the recently introduced NCOSE-backed Preventing Rampant Online Technological and Criminal Trafficking Act of 2022 (PROTECT) Act – as there are currently no federal laws requiring websites which allow pornography on their platforms to verify the consent of every person depicted in those images or respond to requests for removal. This massive gap leaves these female athletes, and others who have been exploited, with little or no recourse but to file a lawsuit to reclaim and restore their dignity.

The PROTECT Act bridges the gap in the law which has allowed IBSA, such as of these young women, to be created, uploaded, and distributed online without the consent of those depicted. The bill has robust requirements for websites to quickly remove content, and prevent the re-loading of this content, once they are notified the content was created and distributed without consent. These requirements will mean that young women, like these athletes, will no longer have to continually relive the horror of their ISBA being circulated on the internet.

And, finally, and most importantly, the bill adds criminal penalties for those, like XHamster and Pornhub, who knowingly upload sexually explicit and exploitive content without the consent of those depicted.

 The PROTECT Act will hopefully return a day when “candid cameras” were meant for innocent fun, rather than enabling malicious and traumatizing behavior, by ensuring everyone is protected from being sexually exploited on the Internet. Let’s no longer tolerate wrong and harmful behavior, but instead provide protection for those victimized by companies that have no regard for human dignity and respect.

Let’s pass the PROTECT Act now and bring an end to the pornography industry’s ‘candid cameras’ and its profiting from the exploitation and traumatization of others.

Craig Osten serves as Director of Foundations, Organizations, and Government Grants for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography. Twitter: @NCOSE. He has more than 30 years of experience working for national and international non-profit organizations in various high-level communications, fundraising, and executive positions. He is a former political reporter, the co-author of several books, and served as managing editor on a dozen more.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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