Pornhub Accused of Illegal Data Collection

The final element of the complaints alleges that Pornhub uses people’s data and “unilaterally assigns sexual preferences to each individual without their knowledge”. according to statements from the group behind the action. Polidoro claims that someone only needs to watch a small number of videos to see more of this type of content.

Freely available tools that monitor which tracker websites are being used, such as black light And Privacy Badgershow that Pornhub data is transmitted to Google via its analytics platform and tag managerand also TrafficJunky, MindGeek’s advertising platform. TraffickJunky states that its ads are viewed 3.2 billion times a day.

A tracking technology used by Pornhub is able to store IDs of the videos you watch on your computer or phone using the “watchedVideoStorage” and “watchedVideoIds” keys, according to WIRED tests. Every time you watch a video, an ID number is added to a list in your browser’s local storage, even if you’re not logged into Pornhub. “You’re basically creating a parallel search history that’s stored right on the user’s device,” says Polidoro.

A MindGeek spokesperson says the company is not commenting on ongoing litigation and will respond “in a timely manner within the appropriate process.” “MindGeek is committed to protecting user privacy and continually implements measures to protect the personal information of all members of its community,” says the spokesperson.

pornhubs Privacy Policy, which describes in detail what data can be collected about individuals, indicates that cookies are used for multiple purposes. For example, it uses cookies to help people log in, to “personalize and enhance” people’s online experience, to record how many people use its website, and to track pages visited and serve ads. “You can set your browser to refuse all or some browser cookies, or to alert you when cookies are being sent,” the privacy policy says. It also states that Pornhub has enabled Google Analytics IP anonymization, so full IP addresses are not stored.

Emily van der Nagel, a social media lecturer at Monash University in Australia who studies identities in social media, says that while Pornhub’s privacy policy states what data is collected and used, it is “likely unlikely” that the average user sees this information. “When the data collection appears to be at a technical level, from an opaque organization with no insight into the social implications, users are unlikely to attempt to intervene in the data collection,” says Nagel. “When there is a risk of social harm, such as when porn preferences emerge as targeted advertisements prominently displayed on a work computer, users become aware of what data porn sites are collecting about them and attempt to intervene in that data collection.”

While a new GDPR complaint is being filed in Italy today, the #StopDataPorn group also filed broader complaints with authorities in Italy and Cyprus last year. The Italian data regulator declined WIRED’s request for comment on the issues, while the Cyprus data regulator had not responded at the time of writing. Much of the research underlying the complaints was conducted by Tracking Exposed, a digital rights group that developed a custom browser extension to analyze Pornhub’s personalization algorithm. The group released a peer-reviewed report Analysis of the Pornhub algorithm in May 2022.

Zack Zwiezen

Zack Zwiezen is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Zack Zwiezen joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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