Roku will kick porn channels off its platform in March

The streaming-device maker is getting rid of uncertified channels, but not everyone is worried about the move.

Adult Time screenshot

Adult Time is one of the XXX-rated subscription services currently distributing videos via a private Roku app. Starting in March, the company will have to find another way to cater to Roku owners.

Image: Adult Time

Roku is getting rid of Pornhub: The streaming-device maker announced a policy change last week that will effectively ban the world's largest porn site, as well as a number of adult entertainment companies, from its platform on March 1, 2022.

Roku did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During its annual developer conference, Roku announced that it was restructuring how it handles channels that aren't suitable for distribution on its Channel Store. The company unveiled a new Independent Developer Kit, which will allow developers and hobbyists to experiment with apps and services without having to rely on the company's SDK.

Roku also unveiled a new beta channel feature, which allows developers to test channels with up to 20 users at a time before publishing them on the company's store. Beta channels are effectively replacing what are commonly known as private channels: These channels aren't listed in the Channel Store, but can be activated by Roku users with a code or direct link via Roku's website.

Private channels — or uncertified channels, as the company likes to call them — have long been used by developers for testing purposes. However, the feature has also been a way for some developers to target Roku owners with content that's not allowed in the company's channel list.

This includes many of the major adult content providers: Pornhub has its own private Roku channel, as do pay-per-view platforms like Adult Empire and AEBN, as well as adult video studios and subscription services like Wicked, Adult Time and Naughty America. All of these companies' Roku channels are expected to disappear on March 1.

Roku's existing policy of effectively turning a blind eye to private channels has been criticized in the past. Rights holders have at times clashed with the company over private channels that offered access to unlicensed content. Sales of Roku devices were even briefly banned in Mexico over this very issue. As a result, Roku began to display a warning message that it may remove uncertified channels that contain illegal content without notice, and that it could ban repeat infringers from accessing any other uncertified channels.

There has also been some isolated criticism of adult content on private channels, but it's unlikely that those voices prompted Roku's policy change. Instead, severe limits on the number of people able to access private channels are more reminiscent of Apple cracking down on companies using its enterprise program to distribute apps to the general public; app stores are massive money-makers for their operators, and any loophole that allows publishers to bypass app store rules is seen as a threat to that business model.

Not every smart TV platform provider is quite as concerned about uncertified apps, however. Both Amazon's Fire TV and Google's Android TV platform make it possible to side-load Android apps from third-party sources, and a number of smart TV platforms also include web browsers, effectively offering access to any web-based video service.

Even on some of the more restrictive platforms, adult content providers have in the past found workarounds. Some have, for instance, relied on third-party aggregation and personal media apps to offer access to video downloads on game consoles — an approach that could get traction on Roku as well, predicted Naughty America CEO Andreas Hronopoulos.

"Fortunately for ourselves and other media companies, there are new platforms like Rad to fill this void," Hronopoulos told Protocol. "We have been using Rad for some time to syndicate our VR Videos to the PSVR ... Since Rad is already on smart TVs, we have this angle covered."

Enterprise

Microsoft Exchange Online users face a key security deadline Saturday

The company will start disabling a highly vulnerable login option, known as "basic authentication," beginning on Oct. 1 — though customers will have one chance to buy more time to transition off the system.

Microsoft has been seeking to prod businesses to move off basic authentication for the past three years, but "unfortunately usage isn’t yet at zero," it said in a post earlier this month.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Microsoft is about to eliminate a method for logging into its Exchange Online email service that is widely considered vulnerable and outdated, but that some businesses still rely upon.

The company has said that as of Oct. 1, it will begin to disable what's known as "basic authentication" for customers that continue to use the system.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at kalspach@protocol.com.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Fintech

Gavin Newsom shows crypto some California love

“A more flexible approach is needed,” Gov. Newsom said in rejecting a bill that would require crypto companies to get a state license.

Strong bipartisan support wasn’t enough to convince Newsom that requiring crypto companies to register with the state’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation is the smart path for California.

Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media

The Digital Financial Assets Law seemed like a legislative slam dunk in California for critics of the crypto industry.

But strong bipartisan support — it passed 71-0 in the state assembly and 31-6 in the Senate — wasn’t enough to convince Gov. Gavin Newsom that requiring crypto companies to register with the state’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation is the smart path for California.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Workplace

Slack’s rallying cry at Dreamforce: No more meetings

It’s not all cartoon bears and therapy pigs — work conferences are a good place to talk about the future of work.

“We want people to be able to work in whatever way works for them with flexible schedules, in meetings and out of meetings,” Slack chief product officer Tamar Yehoshua told Protocol at Dreamforce 2022.

Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dreamforce is primarily Salesforce’s show. But Slack wasn’t to be left out, especially as the primary connector between Salesforce and the mainstream working world.

The average knowledge worker spends more time using a communication tool like Slack than a CRM like Salesforce, positioning it as the best Salesforce product to concern itself with the future of work. In between meeting a therapy pig and meditating by the Dreamforce waterfall, Protocol sat down with several Slack execs and conference-goers to chat about the shifting future.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at llawrence@protocol.com.

LA is a growing tech hub. But not everyone may fit.

LA has a housing crisis similar to Silicon Valley’s. And single-family-zoning laws are mostly to blame.

As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers, whose high salaries put them at an advantage in both LA's renting and buying markets.

Photo: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol

LA’s tech scene is on the rise. The number of unicorn companies in Los Angeles is growing, and the city has become the third-largest startup ecosystem nationally behind the Bay Area and New York with more than 4,000 VC-backed startups in industries ranging from aerospace to creators. As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers. The city is quickly becoming more and more like Silicon Valley — a new startup and a dozen tech workers on every corner and companies like Google, Netflix, and Twitter setting up offices there.

But with growth comes growing pains. Los Angeles, especially the burgeoning Silicon Beach area — which includes Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina del Rey — shares something in common with its namesake Silicon Valley: a severe lack of housing.

Keep Reading Show less
Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

Latest Stories
Bulletins