Luxembourg says it’s not responsible for porn giant MindGeek

Luxembourg says it’s not responsible for porn giant MindGeek

Soparfi

Cyprus and not Luxembourg’s regulator should take steps against MindGeek, which is owned through Grand Duchy holding company

Cyprus and not Luxembourg’s regulator should take steps against MindGeek, which is owned through Grand Duchy holding company

MindGeek is behind Pornhub, perhaps the world’s biggest porn site

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Luxembourg is not responsible for monitoring controversial pornography giant MindGeek, which is headquartered in the Grand Duchy through a holding company, top government ministers said on Friday.

“The Luxembourg-based entity MindGeek S.à r.l. is a financial holding company (Soparfi), which holds shares in other companies. None of the sites or servers are located in the Grand Duchy”, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said in response to a parliamentary question.  

Instead, it should be Cyprus that takes action to prevent minors from accessing pornographic sites that MindGeek owns like Pornhub or Youporn, Bettel and Justice Minister Sam Tanson said. 

“The MindGeek Group’s video sharing platforms are managed and operated by a Cypriot entity of the group, MG Freesites Ltd.”, the ministers responded to social-democrat Dan Biancalana, who asked about the responsibilities of Luxembourg’s audiovisual authority ALIA.

ALIA monitors the application of laws and regulations for audiovisual media including television, radio and sharing platforms. It can issue sanctions or refer companies to the prosecution. Biancalana’s question was spurred by France’s regulator going to court seeking to block access to porn sites for minors.

Under EU law, “it is the responsibility of the Cypriot authorities, and of the Cypriot authorities alone, … to ensure that video sharing platforms under their jurisdiction take appropriate measures to protect minors”, Bettel said.

ALIA and Luxembourg’s media ministry, which Bettel also heads, contacted Cyprus to follow up on the case, he said. 

A study on a potential due diligence law in Luxembourg last year urged Luxembourg to extend requirements to holding companies even if their only operations in Grand Duchy are administering what they perform elsewhere in the world. Holding companies, or Soparfis, have flocked to Luxembourg because of its favourable tax regime, ease of accounting and the double-tax treaties it has with many countries.

Luxembourg’s laissez-faire approach to foreign companies with headquarters in the country has often brought the country unwelcome attention. The Grand Duchy does not have a law forcing it to probe the human rights records of the companies setting up a base in the country. 

One example is NSO, which produces the controversial Pegasus software used to snoop on politicians and dissident journalists such as Jamal Khashoggi, who was later murdered. NSO’s parent company, other divisions and the private equity fund that owns the software maker are all in Luxembourg.

MindGeek has also been under pressure in Germany, where Pornhub and two other websites it runs could be banned if the company fails to install age-verification systems to prevent viewing by children. 

In the US, two women alleged last year they were victims of childhood sex trafficking and that MindGeek and its subsidiaries distributed their videotaped rapes at age 14 and 16 across the world.

In October last year, human rights activists picketed Mindgeek’s Luxembourg’s offices, urging the country’s officials to get tough on companies accused of human rights violations.  


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https://www.luxtimes.lu/en/business-finance/luxembourg-says-it-s-not-responsible-for-porn-giant-mindgeek-626270cdde135b92363bc421

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