TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: EU Slams ICANN Interference With Sex Site Vote

EU Slams ICANN Interference With Sex Site Vote

Huw Jones (
Thu, 11 May 2006 12:18:26 -0500

By Huw Jones

The Internet governing body's decision to reject a new .xxx Internet
domain for porn sites is a clear case of ICANN and USA political
interference in the Web's governance, the European Commission said on

The board of the U.S.-based Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN) voted by 9 to 5 on Wednesday to dismiss the
application to register the domain name, which would be like the .com
or .net at the end of an Internet address.

Supporters said a .xxx domain would have made it easier to confine sex
sites or filter them out, but critics such as the Family Research
Council, a conservative U.S.-based religious group, complained it
would only legitimize the porn industry, and ICANN agreed with that.

The EU executive said the decision underscored the need to make ICANN
independent quickly, following unsuccessful demands last year by a
group of countries including the EU to make ICANN fully independent.

"We see here a first clear case of political interference by ICANN,"
said Martin Selmayr, spokesman for EU Information Society and Media
Commissioner, Viviane Reding.

He said correspondence between ICANN and the U.S. Department of
Commerce, highlighted the "interference."

ICANN, a California-based non-profit group, cannot make changes to the
domain-name system without the approval of the U.S. Commerce
Department, however they have done so in the past when it suited them.

"It's a worrying development that the U.S. administration has
interfered in this process," Selmayr said.

He urged further steps to complete the privatization of ICANN in the
course of this year to release it from the oversight of the Department
of Commerce.

ICANN said in a statement on Wednesday that its discussion had focused
on issues such as sponsorship, compliance issues and public policy

The .xxx application was seen as a test case of ICANN's independence.

At a summit in Tunis last November, the United States fought off
attempts to wrest control of the domain-name system from the Commerce

The U.S. control of the domain-name system had become a sticking point
for countries like Iran and Brazil, who argued that it should be
managed by the United Nations or some other global body.

The United States argued that such a body would stifle innovation with
red tape.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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