Dot-XXX Domain Shot Down Again, Porn to Stay Decentralized

Cyberlaw Tech News

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN), the group in charge of setting Internet addressing guidelines, shot down a proposal to give adult websites their own “.xxx” domain. Apparently, certain groups from both the adult-entertainment industry and various religions (first time working together?) weren’t in favor.

This is the third time ICANN’s board rejected the idea since it the concept was introduced nearly seven years ago. Stuart Lawley, ICM’s president and CEO, wasn’t thrilled by the decision and explained that they will continue to push the issue:

“We are extremely disappointed by the board’s action today. It is not supportable for any of the reasons articulated by the board, ignores the rules Icann itself adopted for the RFP and makes a mockery of Icann bylaws’ prohibition of unjustifiable discriminatory treatment.”

Some board members appeared to be concerned that ICANN could become responsible for content regulation if the domain name was approved. And some members deferred to the opposition as reasoning enough to reject the “.xxx” domain.

Susan Crawford, a member of the board herself, does a fantastic job of shooting holes in all of these arguments:

“ICANN’s role in gTLD policy development is to seek to assess and articulate the broadly shared values of the internet community… real and “astroturf” comments (filed comments claiming to be grassroots opposition that have actually been generated by organized campaigns) have come in to ICANN that reflect opposition to this application… No applicant for any “sponsored” TLD could ever demonstrate unanimous, cheering approval for its application.”

She then goes on to discuss why ICANN and politics should be separate:

“If, after creation of an xxx TLD, certain governments of the world want to ensure that their citizens do not see xxx content, it is within their prerogative as sovereigns to instruct internet access providers physically located within their territory to block such content. Also, if certain governments want to ensure that *all* adult content providers with a physical presence in their country register exclusively within xxx, that is their prerogative as well. (I note that such a requirement in the U.S. would violate the First Amendment to our Constitution.) But this content-related censorship should not be ICANN’s concern, and ICANN should not allow itself to be used as a private lever for government chokepoint content control by making up reasons to avoid the creation of such a TLD in the first place.”

Especially after reading Crawford’s take, I have to admit that I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Let ICANN be ICANN and government be government; things get sticky when you mix the two. But, then again, I’ve never been one to stick a sign in my yard for such issues…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *