Streaming services like Hulu and Netflix are well known for leveraging data, and characterizing users. They’re household names. But you’ve probably never heard of another streaming giant who’s just as ubiquitous. Mindgeek, which identifies as a technology company, owns a large portfolio of adult sites. With corporate holdings like Pornhub, Redtube, and YouPorn there’s a good chance you’ve used their services. And just like Netflix, they’re keeping tabs on your interests and lobbying their own.
Coining themselves a leader “in the design, development, marketing, SEO and management of highly trafficked websites.” It’s not readily apparent Mindgeek is a porn colossus involved in the same upselling, data collection, and curated advertising that sustains the digital economy. Even less obvious is Mindgeek’s involvement in the proliferation of dystopian and draconian legislation. Including new legislation in the United Kingdom.
You may know the United Kingdom plans on implementing a system, called AgeID, which forces adult websites to ask users for age verification; via credit card, passport, or driver’s license. Coined the ‘Porn Pass’ AgeID will offer a database by which users can verify their identities before viewing adult content. Guess who owns the AgeID verification system. Mindgeek.
As if their ability to see much of our more provocative data wasn’t enough Mindgeek seemingly intends to throw a net over the entire United Kingdom with the help of the government. And just in case tech-savvy users and teenagers decide to circumvent legislation by using a VPN service Mindgeek has them covered with a service of their very own.
Those looking for a cheap and quick solution might find themselves using VPNhub. Pornhub’s free VPN, which has made good marketing use of the ‘Porn Pass’ fiasco, is at the ready. With little indication it’s run and owned by Mindgeek. The same company verifying your identity via AgeID. Collecting what might otherwise leak all the while garnering data from users interests outside their services.
VPNhub claims to offer, “a security solution you can always trust.” Yet their ownership is purposefully vague. All the while expecting it’s user’s to believe they’re, “surf[ing] the internet without a trace.” As the maxim goes, “If you’re not paying, you are the product.” It’s something straight out of a sci-fi novel. And its implications are wide reaching. And it’s being done by a company who happens to be offering a free solution to a problem it itself is playing a role in to create. So creepy, Phillip K. Dick could have written it himself.
Note From Editor 5/15/2019: a commenter informed us that Mindgeek does not own Xvideos, which we confirmed to be true, so we removed them from the article. We apologize for the misinformation.
Note From Editor 5/23/2019: MindGeek contacted us to let us know they are not THE largest porn company in the world, they just own SOME of the largest porn companies. They also asked that we refrain from calling them a monopoly, so we removed any references to that from the article.