Executives from the world's largest adult-entertainment company run out of Montreal recently appeared before a Canadian ethics committee over accusations that it profited from sex trafficking.

The head executives from MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub, David Marmorstein Tassillo and Feras Antoon answered questions by members of the House of Commons on February 5, 2021.

The hearing came after Serena Fleites gave her testimony of Pornhub spreading a video of her undressing when she was in grade 7. After being pressured by her then boyfriend, Fleites sent the video even though she didn't want to and was uncomfortable with the idea, according to her testimony. 

It had been uploaded to Pornhub under the title "13-year-old brunette shows off for the camera."

Fleites says she reached out to Pornhub, even pretending to be her own mother, to request the video be taken down. 

She testified that Pornhub took more than a week to respond to her request to take down the video and that it actually took weeks to remove it, just to have it resurface days later.

An Albertan MP, Arnold Viersen has been working on a Pornhub file for some years. 

"It should not be up to children and victims to request to have their content removed," says Viersen.

The website, run by MindGeek, has a huge volume of pornographic material, with millions of videos uploaded every year.

Michael Bowe is Fleites attorney and in the video testimony, he shares that the firm has been investigating Pornhub and parent site MindGeek for roughly a year. 

"Included in that investigation are hundreds of accounts that are similar to Serena's, of underage women, who are children who had exploited material posted on Pornhub," says Bowe. "These are not isolated incidents. It's a real problem."

The executives claim that all content “goes through several filters” before it’s released for viewers. With Fleites now 19 years old, the executives claim they only heard her first and last name in 2020. 

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) made a statement in regards to the hearing.

"Let’s not lose sight of the core problem that led to this moment. When we don’t regulate spaces, especially those involving explicit adult content, the most vulnerable among us – children, teenagers, and adults – inevitably suffer," says Executive Director for C3P, Lianna McDonald. "We do not accept this standard in other forms of media – including television, radio, and print. We should not accept it, as our inaction collectively has, in the digital space."

This isn't the first time groups or organizations have tried to shut down the website.

In March 2020 a group of women protested in front of the headquarters of Pornhub in Montreal, QC, accusing the website of profiting off the sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children.

In December 2020, major credit card companies including Mastercard and Visa cut their ties with Pornhub. Paypal cut ties with the website in 2019. 

"The use of our cards at Pornhub is being terminated. Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site," Mastercard said in a statement. "As a result, and in accordance with our policies, we instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance."

The website says it is putting policies in place to stop videos from reappearing and that they are taking down videos in which the people in them do not give consent. 

Lawmakers were unimpressed and have said more action is needed. 

Ontario MP Charlie Angus says that Pornhub may have violated section 163(3), which carries a potential jail term of up to 14 years.

"At any point, when you were promoting these links of 12-year-olds and runaway teens, was your conversation that you were actually breaking Canadian law? The issue that we're talking about here is criminal behaviour, the Criminal Code, your obligations to protect people," says Angus.