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.XXX Domain Approved

Last Updated: April 10, 2015

 

The .XXX domain is coming to a computer near you.

In an October editorial, Pure Minds Online addressed the proposed .XXX domain as a virtual “red light district.” This new top-level domain (like .COM or .ORG), though it does not yet exist, already has over a quarter of a million domains pre-reserved for it. Finally after years of discussion, on March 18 the Board of ICANN decided to move forward with the proposal. Negotiations are underway, and the new domain will be available in a matter of months.

To date, this issue has garnered more worldwide public comments than any other issue in ICANN’s history. Ironically, both spokespersons from conservative religious groups and from the adult industry find themselves on the same side of the fence concerning this proposal.

Diane Duke is the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition—the trade association for the adult industry. Last week she said the FSC would encourage porn companies to boycott the the new domains. ICANN, she says, has totally disregarded the overwhelming opposition from the adult entertainment industry. The FSC is concerned .XXX will create a virtual, stigmatized “porn ghetto,” one that is easier for world governments to censor.

This was the same objection raised by ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) back in December. According to ICANN’s Bylaws, the Board is required to consider the opinion of the GAC on public policy concerns. In 2007 the GAC raised serious concerns about the .XXX domain, which effectively delayed the Registry Agreement for years. Last December the GAC said it was concerned that some national governments would likely prohibit access to the triple-x suffix, thereby threatening the domain name system itself.

Patrick Trueman, former Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section for the U.S. Department of Justice, says it would be unconstitutional to force pornography away from the .COM domain and into .XXX. But even if this did happen at some point, Trueman believes the government would likely not enforce the law anyway. “If the Department of Justice is not prosecuting Internet porn companies now for violating U.S. obscenity laws, it is not going to prosecute such companies for merely locating in the wrong address.”

ICANN’s Board responded to this objection, saying, if any blocking of the .XXX domain occurs, there is no evidence that this will be any different than the blocking some governments already do. As far as the lawfulness of blocking whole domains or the effect this will have on the porn industry’s profits are concerned, ICANN has made no comment.

The .XXX domain will be managed by the Florida company, the ICM Registry. Their chief executive, Stuart Lawley, said “For the first time, there will be a clearly defined Web address for adult entertainment, out of the reach of minors and as free as possible from fraud or malicious computer viruses.” This has been the long-standing argument for promoters of .XXX. It creates a win-win situation: adult entertainment lovers have a corner of the Web they can call their own, and it will be something relatively easy to regulate and block from minors.

But not everyone buys this argument. In fact, back in 2007, the GAC was concerned about appropriate measures being put in place to restrict illegal pornographic content, to safeguard children from exposure to pornography, and to assist law enforcement agencies in identifying owners of specific web domains. Now, four years later, the ICANN Board believes these concerns have been adequately addressed by the ICM Registry.

“The establishment of a .xxx domain would increase, not decrease the spread of pornography on the Internet,” says Patrick Trueman, “causing even more harm to children, families and communities, and make ICANN complicit in that harm.”

Dwayne Hastings, vice president at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission agrees: “The addition of this new domain will just make the Internet even more of a moral minefield.”


The .XXX domain: What do you think?

In a recent online survey, Covenant Eyes asked people their opinions about the .XXX domain issue:

  • 70% said they believed the .XXX domain would make porn easier to find online.
  • 67% said they agreed that the .XXX domain would make porn easier to filter.
  • 50% said they believed the new domain would legitimize porn as mainstream entertainment.
  • 40% said they agreed that the .XXX domain would increase the amount of porn online.
  • 63% said they strongly agreed that all Internet pornography should be forced to use the .XXX domain.

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