French Court Rejects Religiously Inspired Attempt to Block Top Tube Sites

French Court Rejects Religiously Inspired Attempt to Block Top Tube Sites

PARIS — A Paris court of appeals rejected last week the attempt by local War on Porn groups, led by an extremist Catholic organization, to use France’s media authority and the courts to block the most popular adult tube sites in the country.

As XBIZ has been reporting, following months of statements and threats pressuring tube sites to implement vaguely defined age verification schemes, French media regulator ARCOM went to court in March and April to demand that French ISPs block Pornhub, YouPorn and RedTube — all owned by MindGeek — as well as Tukif, xHamster, XVideos and XNXX.

Tube sites in France have typically asked users to confirm through a pop-up that they are over 18 before accessing adult content. 

“This measure does not make it possible to guarantee that only an adult is likely to access the pornographic content available,” asserted ARCOM through a statement in April. ARCOM is a recently-formed agency that superseded former regulatory agency CSA, an analog of the American FCC.

ARCOM sent “double formal notices” to tube site operators demanding they “find a more robust solution than the simple declaration of age,” wrote Marc Rees of French tech news site Next INpact, which for months has been tracking ongoing threats by the Macron government to censor many of the most popular adult tube sites.

Today, Rees reported that last Thursday the Council of State — an appeals court — issued a ruling rendering null all the activities taken up by CSA and its successor ARCOM in connection with the initial requests to order a block of adult sites.

In the annulment of the proceedings against the adult sites, the Council of State specifically pointed out the role played by extremist Catholic organization Civitas in orchestrating the campaign to block adult websites over supposed failure to comply with a controversial 2020 law.

France’s age-verification mandate was surreptitiously added to a hastily approved domestic violence law during an atypical and sparsely attended COVID-era session of the French Parliament in July 2020.

The law specifies that adult companies should be required to institute measures beyond simply asking an internet user whether they are of age. It also empowers a government official — the president of ARCOM — to demand that the president of the judicial court order the ISP providers to immediately block infringing sites in the entire country.

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