‘.XXX’ Domain Name Under Consideration Again

Daily News Article   —   Posted on January 19, 2007

(by Nathan Burchfiel, CNSNews.com) – The organization in charge of approving Internet domains has reintroduced a controversial proposal to create a domain registry specifically for pornographic content.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in June 2005 approved the creation of the “.xxx” domain. But in May 2006, the organization voted against a contract with domain distributor ICM Registry, in part because of outcry from conservative family groups.

Since then, the ICANN and ICM Registry have worked to revise the terms of the original contract, adding policies aimed at prohibiting child pornography, requiring content labeling, prohibiting deceptive marketing and prohibiting unsolicited marketing.

ICANN began accepting public feedback on the revised contract on Jan. 5 and conservatives have relaunched a campaign to prevent its creation.

An Internet domain name points browsers to a website. For example, browsers can reach Cybercast News Service’s website by entering www.cnsnews.com or www.cnsnews.org into their browser. Both domain names direct readers to the same website.

The same concept would apply to the new .xxx domain names. Owners of pre-existing or new adult websites could purchase the domain name and direct it to their site, making it easier for web surfers to find their page.

Opponents of the new domain worry that it will encourage more pornographic content on the Internet.

“Proliferating pornography will not protect children from pornography,” the Christian group Focus on the Family said in an email to its members. “It will only increase the risk of exposure. Even if some families use filters to block XXX sites, children in families who don’t will be at greater risk of exposure than before.”

Focus on the Family also complains that creating the adult-only domain “would confer legitimacy to an industry that regularly scoffs at the law. It’s like creating a free-market zone for drug dealers or prostitutes to operate more effectively.”

The group has urged its members to oppose the new domain, comparing Internet pornography to “an unholy monster.”

ICM Registry says the new domain “will create a clearly identifiable area of the Internet so that Internet users can be more informed when choosing to select or avoid adult entertainment sites.”

Stuart Lawley, president of ICM, told Cybercast News Service that requirements for the new domain will make it easier for concerned parents to filter out adult content by offering owners of pornographic websites an incentive to label their pages with content tags that filtering software can read.

Website owners who purchase an “.xxx domain” to direct more browsers to their site will be required to label their page with content-specific tags that filtering software can recognize and block.

The tag would apply to all the domains pointing to the page, making it easier for filter software to block adult websites also registered under generic domains like “.com” or “.net,” which do not require content tags.

ICM Registry says on its website that the adult domain is “for responsible members of the online adult entertainment industry and those that supply products and/or services to it.” Part of the $60 annual fee for registering an .xxx domain would go to an independent governing body that would set policies for website owners who use the domain.

ICANN has received hundreds of comments from the public since the revised proposal was submitted Jan. 5, and the organization will continue to accept public comment until Feb. 5.

The feedback so far is opposed to the new domain by a margin of about 5-to-1.

Some of the opponents claim to be owners of adult websites who say they will not switch from .com to .xxx.

“Just for your information – about 95 percent of adult webmasters are opposed to the .xxx idea,” one commenter identified as WebmasterCEO said. “We will not move our websites there!”

But Lawley said his company began offering reservations for the new domains in May 2006 and has “had a tremendous response.”

Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.