Virtual red-light district created

By ELLIOT SMILOWITZ  |  June 2, 2005 at 5:48 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 2 (UPI) -- The Internet's primary oversight body has agreed to create dot-xxx domain names for pornographic Web sites.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which organizes and oversees Internet domains, also will negotiate with the British ICM Registry to work out details for the plan.

"By moving forward with dot-xxx, the online adult-entertainment industry is taking part in a pro-active approach to its presence on the Internet, and making an identifiable commitment to responsible behavior and to the development of best business practices," said Stuart Lawley, president of ICM, in a news release.

Though dot-xxx sites would be made available, there would be no requirement for pornographic sites to relocate to a dot-xxx name.

Lawley's statement also said the dot-xxx domains will be "specifically for adult oriented Web sites willing to adhere to a set of industry best practices."

John Morris, staff council at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a think tank in Washington, said he did not think creating dot-xxx domains was intended to segregate pornography from the dot-coms and dot-nets.

"It's meant to be voluntary," he told United Press International. "I'm confident there will continue to be dot-coms that contain pornographic material, especially sites that are already successful on their current URL. New Web sites are more likely to think about using dot-xxx."

Morris said he did not think segregating pornographic Web sites was a viable option.

"A proposal to make use of dot-xxx mandatory (for pornographic sites) is certain to meet a First Amendment challenge," he said.

BBC News reported online Wednesday this is not the first time ICANN has considered creating the dot-xxx domain. The story said the organization has decided against doing it consistently for the last five years on the basis it would be a confusing and controversial distinction that would not fill any unmet need.

At a summit on pornography last month on Capitol Hill sponsored by the American Decency Association and other values advocacy groups, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., endorsed the creation of a dot-porn domain. Pence's idea was similar to the dot-xxx designation, except Pence wanted to pass a law to segregate online pornography.

"We've got to be creative within constitutional protections" to prevent minors from accessing pornography, Pence said at the time, expressing frustration with the Supreme Court's refusal to get involved in the issue.

Pence's office told UPI he was unavailable for comment for this story.

The dot-xxx domain was one of several approved by ICANN. Among the others were dot-travel and dot-jobs, for web sites related to traveling and careers, respectively. As with dot-xxx, there are no rules governing the nature of the Web sites on these domains, only suggestions.

Originally, there were only seven non-country domains, led by dot-com and dot-net. In 2000, ICANN added seven more, including dot-biz and dot-info.


Elliot Smilowitz is an intern for UPI Science News. E-mail:

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