ICANN Approves Top Level Adult Domain

After years of rejecting applications to establish .XXX, ICAAN's board has voted to move forward with the adult entertainment industry domain.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

June 25, 2010

2 Min Read

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has decided to give the adult entertainment industry the .xxx top-level domain, a move likely to result in the establishment of a virtual red-light district on the Web.

The ICAAN board in Brussels voted Friday to move forward on the TLD application by ICM Registry, which has sought the .xxx registry for six years. ICM is a registry operator and claims to have no affiliation with the adult entertainment industry.

Approval of the domain does not mean Web sites with URLs ending in .xxx will appear anytime soon. ICM will have to hammer out with the ICAAN a contract to run the domain, after the company shows it meets technical and financial qualifications.

Nevertheless, the registry cheered ICAAN's action.

"It's been a long time coming, but I'm excited about the fact that .xxx will soon become a reality," Stuart Lawley, chairman of ICM Registry, said in a statement. "This is great news."

However, the news wasn't so good for critics of the pornography industry.

"The creation of a .xxx domain sounds good in theory but is a very bad idea," Donna Rice Hughes, president of the nonprofit Enough Is Enough, said. "It 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."

Enough is Eough, established in 1994, is a national advocate for protecting children from pornography and sexual predators on the Web.

Proponents say a .xxx domain will make it easier for people and search engines to identify sites with adult content and make it easier for vendors to build filtering software parents and businesses can use to keep pornography off computers.

ICAAN had repeatedly rejected establishing a .xxx domain, partly due to intense opposition from religious groups and governments, including the U.S. government. In the latest vote, however, ICAAN acknowledged that all criteria for establishing the domain had been met, leaving no justification for a denial.

ICANN is a private organization responsible for overseeing the operational stability of the Internet.

Also on Friday, the ICAAN board approved the use of domain names written entirely in Chinese. The decision means Web site operators will eventually be able to use native script in registering Web sites in the Chinese country-code top-level domains. Before, operators had to use ".cn" at the end of domain names.

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