February 20, 2017

The Case for Naming Roku to the Dirty Dozen List

Roku, with an estimated 10 million monthly users, is a company that produces highly competitive streaming devices that connect to the internet and allow you to display content on your TV, including content from popular video hosting services like YouTube and Netflix. Roku offers “channels”, similar to standard TV channels, although competitors like Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV call them “apps.”

Roku’s public directory has over 3,500 channels including many free providers like YouTube, PBS Kids, Ted talks, Pandora, as well as subscription-based channels like Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu. Roku also allows developers to set up “private” or “hidden” channels which can only be downloaded with a code or direct link to the Roku website. Roku has at least 1,800 such private channels.

Roku does not expressly allow pornographic channels in their public channel store, however since they allow developers to set up “private” or “hidden” channels, Roku has become a major mainstream destination for streaming sexually exploitive content. Hundreds of these channels can be accessed via direct download from the Roku website. In contrast, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV have taken measures to prohibit pornographic content from being accessed through their services.

Roku is facilitating access to hardcore pornography, including pornography sites that frequently depict themes of rape, violence, teen and child, incest, and racist. In addition, many of the porn channels are incognito. The distributors often provide two versions of their channel, one with the usual pornographic name and another, “discreet” channel that is called something seemingly very irrelevant and innocent. For example:

An example of a “discreet” channel that is really a front for a teen-themed porn channel.

No other media streamer offers the amount of explicit video streaming channels as are available on Roku. We call on Roku to follow the industry standards set forth by other industry leaders and to stop facilitating access to hardcore pornography.

Join us by taking action here.



Further Reading