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RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Oct. 21, 2020.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

A call for a criminal investigation into MindGeek and its website Pornhub is under review, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told members of Parliament on Monday, months after MPs urged for an inquiry in an open letter.

Ms. Lucki said that the RCMP does not comment on whether an incident is under investigation, but that the matter is under review, including whether further action is required. The RCMP is working with appropriate police, she added, and if there is necessary information that leads the force to launch an investigation, it will be launched “unequivocally.”

“And if that investigation gives us the evidence to lay charges, those charges will be laid. I tell you there is no more committed people than in law enforcement when it comes to child and sexual exploitation.”

The House of Commons ethics committee is looking at the protection of privacy and reputation on platforms such as Pornhub. The study was launched after a New York Times opinion piece said that Pornhub makes money off child rape videos and revenge pornography. MindGeek, which is registered in Luxembourg, operates in Montreal and employs more than 1,000 people.

Ms. Lucki was responding to questions from Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs, who said she understood from the commissioner’s answer that no charges have been laid.

“You can understand how deeply disturbing that would be to every single Canadian listening in,” Ms. Stubbs said. “So can I just ask you really simply, what the hell is going on, then? How could it be that undertaking an investigation is under consideration right now, and there have been no charges?”

The issue is complicated because of the application of domestic criminal laws, Ms. Lucki said. The limits of jurisdiction have been challenging, given the nature of the internet, “which is not bound by traditional borders.”

“It’s very difficult for the RCMP to monitor and ascertain compliance with the mandatory reporting act, particularly in the cases where the companies have a complex international structure and the data is stored in multiple jurisdictions.”

She said the RCMP would respond shortly to the letter it received from more than 70 members of Parliament, which called for a criminal investigation into MindGeek.

Earlier in committee, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the government will introduce legislation to create a regulator that will ensure online platforms remove harmful content, including child sexual abuse material.

“We will continue to work with domestic and international partners to investigate cases where evidence exists and to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.

Justice Minister David Lametti told committee that under Canada’s mandatory reporting act, Internet service providers are required to report complaints of child porn to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Internet service providers, he added, are also obligated to inform authorities if a child porn crime has been committed.

Canada is not the only country dealing with these issues and that’s why Ottawa is working with international partners to facilitate co-operation in investigations and prosecutions, Mr. Lametti said.

The advocacy group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has previously said that its research shows companies such as Pornhub should already be held liable for its content under existing law.

Ms. Stubbs raised this point on Monday and asked Mr. Blair what he will do to ensure current laws are enforced.

He replied that the legal framework dealing with child exploitation is “robust” but that RCMP and other police services have a significant and challenging job gathering evidence. He reiterated that a number of initiatives are on the way.

Without revealing the contents of a draft bill, Mr. Lametti said the government is considering how to make Internet service providers more responsible in terms of mandatory reporting, and exploring possible changes to expand the mandatory reporting act.

Canadian MindGeek executives testified before the parliamentary committee in February and dismissed MPs concerns about its Pornhub website, defending the safeguards the website has in place.

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