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ICANN Changes Porn Site Domains to .XXX

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Porn websites with sexually explicit material will claim their own top level domain (TLD) on the Internet as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) begins to review a plan to change the suffix designation .xxx. The primary reason the domain designation is to help people filter out adult oriented content.

XXX: ICANN Changes to .XXX

The adult entertainment industry on the Internet remains one of the driving forces for technology and dollars, to the tune of $12 billon, on the Internet. Thousands of sites proliferate and this new move would give them their own domain.

Back in 2000, ICANN began categorizing the domain names. Everyone is familiar with .com or .org but there are others like .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, and .net. The .xxx suffix came up then but ICANN voted it down and promptly received a piledriver from politicians asking why ICANN wasn’t willing to protect children by using this designation.

Other domains designations approved recently include .jobs and .travel as well as .cat, .post and .mobi. There are other designations awaiting approval.

The Internet Content Management (ICM) Registry led the charge for the .xxx designation and is pleased with the result. They’ve been working since ICANN failed to create the .xxx TLD back in 2000 and they were created specifically to get the .xxx approved.

“We are pleased with the ICANN Board’s decision. By moving forward with .xxx, the online adult-entertainment industry is taking part in a pro-active approach to its presence on the Internet, making an identifiable commitment to responsible behavior and to the development of best business practices,” said Stuart Lawley, Chairman and President of ICM Registry.

ICM will maintain the .xxx registry and maintain that the compliance is strictly voluntary. They do indicate though that a number of adult oriented websites have already expressed interest and support in the TLD change. They say they’re not in the business of regulating content so much as making people aware of it.

Robert Corn-Revere, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP and outside counsel to ICM Registry for free expression issues said, “This approach demonstrates that voluntary initiatives that harness the power of technology and the self-organizing principles of the Internet are preferable to efforts that would impose top-down command-and-control regulation.” He added, “Individuals should be able to use these tools to make their own decisions about what to read or watch, and not have those choices imposed by governments. In this regard, creation of a voluntary .xxx domain is a step in the right direction.”

The ACLU sees some real problems with this decision though. They are worried that what some in power may deem as undesirable content like sex education websites and others may get dumped into the .xxx designation and essentially taken out of circulation. Sometimes public opinion on legitimate medical and health issues could be a problem here. South Africa has had real debate on the HIV/AIDS topic and many there believe that the two aren’t connected. Could frank discussion on HIV/AIDS be prohibited because much of the topic could eventually turn towards homosexuality in some circles? Most scientists agree casual sex, regardless of preference have more to do with catching HIV/AIDS then just being homosexual.

The other question that arises now will be a definition of pornography. The Supreme Court has often let the “community standards” dictate the direction of what is considered pornography but community standards now will integrate the opinions of the entire planet. The dictionary defines pornography as sexually explicit material but one suspects that legal wranglers will need something more than the word of Miriam Webster to determine where things go from here.

The Supreme Court has also maintained the society can protect minors from such adult material as well. The problem we run into is that venues for such material have been traditional brick and mortar type establishments. With the constitutional right of free speech in play, where will government go on this issue? We as citizens have been guaranteed the right, at least in this country, the to view pornographic material but we’ve also been given the duty to protect our children from such material. Is this issue really a start of Internet regulation? The new designation is entirely voluntary. Or is there something else to this?

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

ICANN Changes Porn Site Domains to .XXX
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