Thursday, July 1, 2010

What Impact will .xxx have on Internet Pornography?

On Friday of last week, the infrequently mentioned (and rather oddly named), California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the creation of a new top level domain similar to the already familiar ".com", ".org" and ".edu" and country code top level domains such as ".ca" for Canada. The new web address suffix will be ".xxx". The suffix will most likely be used as a portal for the adult entertainment industry and will likely go live no later than the beginning of 2011. The request for the new suffix was made by ICM Registry LLC, a privately owned internet registry provider that claims to have no association with the online adult entertainment industry.

ICANN is a non-profit organization formed in 1998 that oversees internet domain name systems on behalf of the United States government. ICANN does not control internet content; it simply co-ordinates the domain names so that internet users around the world can access the URL addresses they are attempting to locate on other computers. It was first asked to approve the ".xxx" domain back in 2000 and rejected the proposal due to lack of uniformity within the adult entertainment community. ICANN has reassessed the issue several times since 2000 and has turned down the request for various reasons, not the least of which has been a public backlash.

Before this final decision, ICANN opened a 45 day public comment period through to May 10, 2010 which allowed various interest groups to state their objection to or agreement with the addition of the ".xxx" domain. Here is the webpage that contains the comments regarding this issue from various organizations and individuals around the world and here is ICANN's summary of the comments received.

In flipping through the pages of the summary, I came upon this interesting section:

"Another email campaign referencing Option 3 (reject adoption of the .xxx domain) is likely to have originated from the American Family Association. This form (i.e. form email letter) generated a large number of comments containing the following language:


Subject: (Please enter your own subject line.)


Dear ICANN,


I support Option #3 of the March 26, 2010 process options submitted by ICANN for public comment.


ICANN should vote to adopt the dissenting opinion of the Panel's Declaration on the basis that the Board thinks that the Panel's majority opinion was wrong and that the Board's conduct was consistent with ICANN's Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.


In many instances, the subject line “(Please enter your own subject line.)” was left unmodified by the submitter. The language used in this form mirrors language that was in the Process Report."


The American Family Association (or AFA) is a pro-family, faith-based organization "that stands for traditional family values and exists to motivate and equip citizens to reform our culture to reflect Biblical truth on which it was founded.". Their website promoted the use of an online email blitz campaign to force ICANN to turn down adoption of the ".xxx" domain.


Here's their online petition to ICANN:



...and here's their reasoning behind their philosophy:



As noted in the ICANN report, it is interesting to note that many of the AFA petitioners that emailed the AFA petition did so with the subject line stating "Please enter your own subject line" as shown on the template rather than changing it. Definitely an interesting group of people.

The AFA claims that the new domain would "increase the amount of p*rn on the internet and make it more available to adults and children.". The AFA claims that adoption of "the ".xxx" domain would make hardcore pornography even easier to find for children." Nonsense. With a reported 420 million pages of pornography on the internet from an estimated 4.2 million pornographic websites (2006 statistics), I have no idea how the addition of a ".xxx" domain will make one tiny little bit of difference to the amount of pornography available on the internet. It is already way too easy to find pornography on the internet in the strangest of places. As well, pornographic images and videos are up- and downloaded through file sharing websites making the use of the ".xxx" suffix relatively meaningless in the grand scheme of things.


I would suggest though, that if all purveyors of online adult entertainment were to be forced to change their domain names to a suffix ending in ".xxx", it would be far easier for a heavy-handed, censorial government to shut down websites ending with the same suffix should they be pressured by interest groups to do so. As well, on the upside to the AFA-types, it may even make the use of family filters easier since it would be a relatively simple matter to block all websites ending in the same suffix than it is to block a wide variety of websites ending with a wide selection of suffixes.


Despite AFA's protestations to the contrary, the adoption of the ".xxx" domain is much ado about nothing.


Should you have a desire to pre-reserve a .xxx domain,here is ICM's website. The company already has 110,000 pre-reservations so I'd suggest that your name better be creative!


1 comment:

  1. I run both adult and mainstream websites and I won't be buying any dotxxx domains. I see no value in them. The tld was created by a company that is not part of the adult industry but simply tried to make money off of it.

    We've seen this type of hype before when .mobi launched. Now, years later, those domainers who rushed to buy .mobi domains are already letting them expire, because there's no market for them.

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