Plans for .xxx top-level domain pop up again

The .xxx domain is back on the table. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will reconsider the top-level domain during a meeting in Kenya this week, nearly three years after it was shot down and nine years after it was first introduced as a way to identify pornography sites and hopefully confine them to their own Internet red-light district.

The .xxx domain was first proposed in 2001 and approved in 2005 for exclusive (but voluntary) use by the adult entertainment industry. The idea was to provide a place for porn sites online that would be explicitly obvious from the domain, which would not only help consenting adults find the sites, it would also help parents and corporations better block access to them.

The latter, however, was not how some family groups saw the situation—the US Department of Commerce later reported having received 6,000 letters from concerned citizens over .xxx (many of which were auto-generated from the Family Research Council). The letters stated that they didn't want to give pornographers more opportunities to "distribute smut on the Internet" and that parents would have false hope in protecting their families. The heavy push from the US eventually led to ICANN's reversal of its earlier decision to green-light the top-level domain (TLD) and an official cancellation of the plans in 2007.

Three years later and we're back at square one. Two weeks ago, an independent panel from the International Center for Dispute Resolution said that ICANN goofed when it rejected .xxx. The decision was not a binding one, but ICANN clearly feels that the issue is worth reconsideration after all; the organization confirmed to the BBC that it would discuss the TLD again this week to decide whether it wants to move forward on it—again.

ICM Registry, the company that would resell the .xxx domains if they are approved, seems confident that the TLD approval will go through. "Our claim was that ICANN came up with a lot of different excuses," ICM Registry chairman Stuart Lawley said. "If the contract is signed, we could be selling names by the end of the year."

This, of course, is an optimistic view. An ICANN spokesperson told the BBC that there's "no indication what action the ICANN board will take," and it's unlikely that the domain will be approved during the March 12 meeting even if ICANN decides to reconsider it. One thing we're sure of, however, is that the anti-porn crusaders will come back out of the woodwork if .xxx is approved again and ICANN can look forward to many more e-mails like this one.

Source: ars technica

Tags: ICANN, Internet

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