.xxx's porn red-light district domain is one step closer

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Internet pornography is close to having its own dedicated .xxx web addresses on the Internet.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board of directors approved June 25 the top-level domain for pornography reversing the past decade of denying the application for the .xxx domain to move forward. Top-level designates specific uses for each domain.

Donna Rice Hughes, president of the anti-pornography Enough Is Enough organization, said that this departure marks a significant loss for those concerned about the safety, security and sexual health of children and families.

"The creation of a .xxx domain sounds good in theory but is a very bad idea" that will "allow Internet pornographers to co-locate their content on both their existing .com domains and the new .xxx domain, thus dramatically increasing pornography's pollution of the Internet," said Hughes.

"Internet pornography is taking a significant toxic toll on our nation's children and families; harms are widespread and addictions are skyrocketing — impacting productivity, relational, social and psychological health," Hughes, a former Child Online Protection Act commissioner, said.

Family advocates believe that the estimated 370 million existing pornographic companies on the web will not give up their current .com names but add the new URL to their existing web addresses.

Expecting pornographers to voluntarily give up their successful .com addresses and locate solely on the .xxx domain, Hughes said, "is both foolish and shortsighted."

Arguments presented at the hearing suggested that the U.S. Congress could pass a law to require all pornographers to leave .com and migrate to the .xxx. However, opponents of the decision state that a proposed law regulating the Internet would likely be struck down in federal courts or are unenforceable. Historically, all attempts by Congress to regulate Internet porn have not been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"So-called free-speech advocates along with pornographers claim that restrictions on their content are violating free speech," said Hughes.

Hughes also noted that many families in the United States do not utilize filtering software to prevent unintentional and intentional access to pornography, the creation of .xxx domain will only make it easier for children and those struggling with addiction to access this content.

Patrick Trueman, a former chief of the U.S. Department of Justice's child exploitation and obscenity section, had urged concerned citizens earlier this year to voice their objection to the domain.

"The .com domain is a cash cow for pornographers and they are not leaving it," Trueman wrote in comments submitted to ICANN. "ICANN has no enforcement powers to make them leave and thus clean up .com. Pornographers would simply expand to .xxx and maintain their current .com sites, perhaps doubling the number of porn sites and doubling their menace to society."

Hughes cautioned that the only beneficiary of such a change would be pornographers and ICM Registry, a company that registers domains. "Only ICM founder Stuart Lawley, who successfully brokered the approval of .xxx domain names, ICM's affiliates and the pornographers will benefit from ICANN's unwise decision, and while they prosper, it is our children and families that will suffer," added Hughes.

Final approval is still several months away. The application for .xxx has been approved but the extension itself has not. ICANN approved a detailed set of next steps for the application, including negotiations on a draft registry agreement and consultation with ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee, an organization of 100 governments.



BP news was used in this report

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