TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Porn Sites Get Own Domain Name, '.xxx'

Porn Sites Get Own Domain Name, '.xxx'

Lisa Minter (
Thu, 2 Jun 2005 16:57:49 -0500

By Andy Sullivan

Sex sites will soon be able to sign up for Web addresses in the .xxx
Internet domain, but a virtual red light district won't guarantee that
people can avoid pornography online, Internet experts said on

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers said late
Wednesday it would move ahead with plans to set up a separate .xxx
Internet domain for sexually explicit material.

Sex sites won't be required to sign up for .xxx addresses. But the new
domain will enable porn sites to label themselves clearly and help
filtering software keep underage users away, according to ICM Registry
Inc., the company that will oversee the domain.

"This is a voluntary initiative," said Robert Corn-Revere, a
Washington lawyer who helped ICM develop its proposal. "We're not
trying to put it forward as the ultimate solution for everything."

Child-safety advocate Donna Rice Hughes said .xxx won't help people
avoid online porn because sex sites will still be able to hold on to
their old .com domain names.

"It's a nice little red-light district for the pornographers, but I
don't think it's going to do anything to protect kids," said Hughes,
president of the group Enough is Enough. "It's not going to make
filters work any better."

A spokeswoman for Playboy Enterprises Inc. said the adult
entertainment company had no plans to move any of its Web sites to the
new domain.

Pornography accounts for more than 10 percent of online traffic and
there are more than 1 million porn Web sites currently online,
according to ICM.

Efforts to ban or segregate online pornography have failed for
years. The U.S. Congress in 1996 prohibited the "knowing transmission"
of obscene or indecent messages to anyone under 18 years old, but the
Supreme Court struck that law down a year later on the grounds that it
was too broad. A narrower 1998 attempt has never enforced due to a
court challenge.

ICANN, a US-based, international nonprofit body, has in the past
fought efforts by internet users and congress to set up a domain for
sex sites on the grounds that it doesn't "want to regulate online
content, or judge what should be allowed on the net".

That's not an issue with the .xxx domain because it will be run by the
private sector, ICANN spokesman Kieran Baker said.

"As a technical coordinator, we don't pass judgment over content on the
various sites," Baker said.

ICANN usually takes six to nine months to wrap up the approval
process, he said. After that it will be up to ICM to get the domain up
and running.

ICANN has approved a number of other new domains to complement
stalwarts like .com and .org. In April ICANN approved the .jobs domain
for Web sites offering employment information and .travel for the
travel industry.

A company called already sells .xxx addresses, but most Web
browsers are not configured to view them.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Although ICANN could and did approve of
such spam hives as .biz .info and .jobs , they would not approve of
'.xxx' because, as Vint Cerf would explain it, "no one should dictate
how another site operates." Gee, where have we heard that line
before? PAT]

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