Three porn sites face stricter EU rules under DSA

20 Dec 2023

Image: © Erman Gunes/

Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos have been labelled very large online platforms under the DSA, which means they will have to take additional measures to protect children online and prevent the spread of illegal content.

Three adult content websites have drawn the attention of the EU and will face stricter rules under the Digital Services Act (DSA).

The websites – Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos – have been labelled as very large online platforms (VLOPs) due to the number of monthly users they receive from the EU. Platforms that are listed as VLOPs are required to stay on top of content moderation under the DSA – the EU’s landmark rules to tackle illegal content online.

Platforms are categorised as VLOPs under the DSA if they have more than 45m monthly active users in the EU, a figure which will be adjusted over time to represent 10pc of the bloc’s population. Very large platforms will need to be able to monitor and manage any harmful or illegal content, or face fines of up to 6pc of their global turnover.

The designation means the three websites will need to take new measures to prevent the spread of illegal content and to protect children online. The normal measures for companies under the DSA include implementing easy ways for users to report illegal content, clearly labelling advertisements and creating annual transparency reports on content moderation processes.

But as VLOPs, these websites will have to take extra measures such as risk assessment reports of their websites, new mitigations to prevent the spread of illegal content online and updated website designs to prevent risks to children. This suggests that the three websites will be forced to have stricter age verification tools.

The European Commission said all online platforms will need to be DSA compliant by 17 February, while the three new VLOPs have four months to adopt additional measures to protect users online.

“We will continue to designate platforms that meet the thresholds and make sure that they comply with their obligations under the DSA,” said internal market commissioner Thierry Breton. “I have been very clear that creating a safer online environment for our children is an enforcement priority under the DSA.”

The three adult websites join 19 other platforms that were labelled as VLOPs earlier this year, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Amazon Store, Wikipedia, Twitter – or X – and YouTube.

Amazon has challenged the VLOP designation in the EU’s General Court and claims it does not meet the criteria of being a VLOP. Amazon also claims rivals with a larger EU presence have not been listed as VLOPs.

Meanwhile, the European Commission recently opened formal proceedings against X to assess whether the platform has violated the terms of the DSA.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic