New .xxx domain will be reserved for porn

ICANN approved a plan for the new top-level domain yesterday

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) yesterday approved a plan for pornographic Web sites to use new addresses that end with ".xxx," something numerous groups and U.S. political leaders have been seeking to try to prevent sexually explicit content from landing on the screens of young Internet users.

ICANN, the nonprofit organization that oversees technical matters related to the Internet, said it will begin negotiations with ICM Registry Inc. to resolve commercial and technical issues associated with operating the .xxx top-level domain (TLD).

The decision in favor of establishing a virtual red-light district for providers of pornographic content and their customers represents a U-turn for ICANN, which rejected ICM's first application for the .xxx TLD in November 2000. Reasons for the objection are published in a document available on ICANN's Web site.

ICANN, in Marina Del Rey, Calif., wasn't immediately available for comment.

ICM argues on its Web site that .xxx Web addresses will shield children from pornographic content more effectively by allowing families and others using filtering software to block access to sites ending with this suffix.

The International Foundation for Online Responsibility will sponsor .xxx, according to ICM Registry. The foundation is a Canadian nonprofit entity that will serve as the policy-making authority for the .xxx TLD. It is -- and will remain -- totally independent from ICM Registry, which is primarily funded by registration activities, the Internet registry company said.

The nonprofit foundation said on its Web site it will promote online child safety and campaign against child pornography. "This foundation will provide assistance through various online support organizations and the sponsoring of technology tools and education programs for parents," ICM Registry said. "The online adult-entertainment industry wants to create an identifiable space with which its members can elect to associate themselves and wherein they can responsibly self-organize and create guidelines to promote credible self-regulation."

ICM Registry, which is wholly owned by Chestermere Investments Ltd., will operate the registry. The company, according to its Web site, "is a financially stable and completely independent entity with no affiliation, current or historic, with the adult-entertainment industry."

In 2000, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) joined several other U.S. politicians demanding ICANN to approve the .xxx TLD. In a paper available on the Web (download PDF), Lieberman wrote: "I think [the .xxx TLD] has a lot of merit, for rather than constricting the Net's open architecture, it would capitalize on it to effectively shield children from pornography and it would do so without encroaching on the rights of adults to have access to protected speech."

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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