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Third Time No Charm: ICANN Rejects XXX Domain
By: Terri Wells
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    2007-04-04

    Table of Contents:
  • Third Time No Charm: ICANN Rejects XXX Domain
  • A Lot Happens in Two Years
  • Not ICANN's Jurisdiction
  • Does .xxx Have a Future?

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    Third Time No Charm: ICANN Rejects XXX Domain


    (Page 1 of 4 )

    It seems like the issue that wonít die. But on March 30, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) voted 9-5 to reject the proposal for a .xxx top-level domain. Itís not just a case of the prudes versus the perverts; there are some very good reasons this bid was rejected. Keep reading to learn about these reasons as well as the background for this controversial would-be TLD.

    The vote was held at ICANN's 28th International Public Meeting in Lisbon, Portugal. The Register reported that ICANN CEO Paul Twomey abstained from the vote. ICANN last rejected creation of the TLD nearly a year ago, in May 2006. Then as now, the applicant was ICM Registry, a non-profit organization. Indeed, ICM's original proposal for the .xxx domain dates back to 2000, when ICANN first opened up the proposal process for TLDs beyond .com, .net, .org and country coded top-level domains.

    Ironically, back in late 2005, ICANN actually approved ICM's bid for a .xxx domain, but protests from the Bush administration caused it to delay letting the domain go live. I reported on the issues at the time. The arguments on both sides of the issue, at least at the time, could make one's head spin. The alliances have shifted since then, to something even more confusing.

    On one side were the honest pornographers, pointing out that it is perfectly legal for those of age to view porn online if they want to, and a .xxx domain would make it easier to find. It would also help prevent web surfers who wanted to avoid porn from stumbling across it accidentally -- and if you think that's unlikely to happen, you've obviously never had your ".com" reflex kick in when surfing to the White House's web site. Whitehouse.com used to be a porn site, but at the time of this writing it was perfectly safe for work. As a final argument, proponents of the .xxx domain said its existence would make it easier for parents and others to block porn on computers used by minors, who legally should not be viewing the material.

    On the other side were organizations such as the Family Research Council and other pro-family religious groups. You would think that these groups would be in favor of this kind of segregation, but in fact they seemed to think the approval of a .xxx domain would somehow "legitimize" porn online and facilitate the growth of the adult entertainment industry. The FRC was delighted that ICANN voted against the creation of a .xxx top-level domain, of course, but it might be a little less pleased if it realized that the reasons for the rejection were somewhat more complicated than the points I've laid out here.

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