Pornhub announces default encryption to prevent ISPs tracking content

31 Mar 2017

Trying to remain anonymous with great difficulty. Image: Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Adult entertainment site Pornhub – and sister site YouPorn – are to begin encrypting by default to prevent ISPs from tracking what content users are viewing.

The reaction to the passing of a repeal of a law preventing internet service providers (ISPs) from selling customer data to advertisers has not gone down well with much of the online community.

Organisations working for online privacy such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have been particularly critical, warning that citizens would effectively have to pay a privacy tax by purchasing VPNs to hide their identity online.

Joining in the fight is one company that has every right to fear for the privacy of its users: Pornhub.

According to The Verge, Pornhub and sister site YouPorn will now ensure that anyone visiting their sites will be defaulted to HTTPS encryption to prevent ISPs from tracking what kind of videos are being watched.

With pornography and people’s interests in various types being quite a sensitive subject, there are fears that ISPs could reveal data to create more targeted advertising online.

However, even when the default encryption kicks in on 4 April, ISPs will still be able to track that people are visiting the site itself.

ISPs already working to gather data

“As one of the most viewed websites in the world, it is our duty to ensure the confidentiality and safety of our users,” said YouPorn vice-president Brad Burns.

“The transition to HTTPS will go a long way in solidifying our users’ privacy and protecting them against various types of malware. The data on our webpages will now be encrypted, making it significantly harder for third parties to penetrate.”

Efforts by ISPs to sell on data are already underway, mere days after the law brought in by former US president Barack Obama was repealed.

For example, the EFF has revealed that one of America’s biggest telecoms providers, Verizon, is to begin installing software called AppFlash on its customers’ Android devices.

With this software, Verizon will be able to track what services you are using as well as unique identifiers for that device.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic