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.XXX Top-Level Domain Proposal Revived

.XXX Top-Level Domain Proposal Revived

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)–the organization that manages the assignment of Internet domain names and IP addresses–has recently revived the proceedings for establishing the .XXX top-level-domain (TLD) intended for use by pornographic sites. The proposal for a TLD for the adult-entertainment industry had been around as early as 2004, and ICANN had actually come to the point of posting for public review the proposed Agreement for a sponsored TLD with ICM Registry, Inc. in April of 2006. However, this was supposedly rejected in May 2006 by a majority vote among the ICANN board of directors.

Apparently, however, ICANN did not actually vote to reject the application at that time, but simply voted not to approve it as proposed.

The ICANN Board considered the agreement at its meeting on 10 May 2006 and voted not to approve the agreement as proposed, but did not reject the application. The applicant has continued to work to modify the agreement in order to address public policy issues raised by the GAC. ICM and ICANN Staff have been renegotiating a revised agreement in preparation for community review and board consideration.

In a recent announcement, ICANN has indeed published for public review a revised proposed Agreement with ICM. Notable among the changes in the new proposal are the addition of “stronger provisions to prohibit child pornography and require labeling of Web sites with sexually explicit materials.”

Recall that the arguments posed by advocates of the the proposed .xxx namespace include the ease by which sexually-explicit domains can be filtered out in relevant environments (say, in families with young children, and in the workplace). Critics, meanwhile, include conservative groups and even some members of the adult-entertainment industry themselves. The former would argue that the establishment of an Internet red-light district would serve to legitimize pornography and actually make it easier to find pornographic sites, and the latter are threatened with the possibility of .xxx being mandatory for adult sites (and thus curtailing their freedom of speech–if that means the freedom to publish any site in .com or other namespaces).

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The public comment period will be open until February 5, 2007, and you can email in your thoughts to xxx-icm-agreement (at) icann (dot) org. Existing comments can be viewed at the ICANN forum for the .xxx agreement.

Some sites that may make for good reference material in this debate (depending on which side you’re on) are IFFOR, which is run by ICM Registry, and FightTheDotXXX.

Source: Business Week, via AP

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