ICANN has reversed its previous votes to create a virtual red-light district with the new .XXX domain suffix for adult content. ICM Registry will own and manage the domain.
The agency governing
Internet addresses has approved .xxx as a new top-level domain, despite
objections from civil rights groups, the adult entertainment industry and even
The Internet Corp. for
Assigned Names and Numbers approved the creation of the .xxx suffix on March 18
in a 9-3 vote. Four board members abstained from the vote, with two claiming
potential conflicts of interest. ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom also abstained.
Industry members opposed the
new domain suffix because it may open them up to government censorship. The new
TLD would also unfairly force existing companies to register their brands on
the new suffix to protect their brand name, according to several critics of the
"Of course, we are
disappointed, but we are not surprised by the ICANN Board's decision," wrote
Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade
association representing more than 1,000 businesses in the industry.
As there's nothing that
states existing sites have to switch to the new dot-xxx domain, and new sites
can choose to use the regular dot-com instead of the new domain, this may not
have as much impact on online adult content as a whole. While filters can
effectively block out content on the dot-xxxx, that won't have much impact on
the amount of adult
content available online
, according to Donna Rice Hughes, president of
Enough Is Enough, a group dedicated to protecting children from adult Web
Other detractors, including
the American Civil Liberties Union and the Obama administration, are concerned
the new domain would make it easier for foreign governments to have a wholesale
block of certain types of content.
"This decision goes against
the global public interest, and it will open the door to more Internet blocking
by governments and undermine the stability and security of the Internet," said
Lawrence Strickling, assistant Commerce secretary.
The clear winner for the
ICANN vote is ICM Registry, a Florida-based company, which will be overseeing
the domain. ICM Registry claimed it would only sell domains to those sites that
are "officially in the adult-entertainment industry."
Using the new domain will
make browsing these sites much safer, according to Stuart Lawley, ICM's CEO.
All the sites in the new domain will be scanned daily for viruses and other
malware to ensure the sites are clean, Lawley said. ICM will also offer site
owners a payment-processing system that customers will be able to trust, he
Lawley said. "The consumer of adult sites wins. The providers will benefit
because more people will become paying customers. Those who don't want to go
there will win as well because the sites will be easier to filter."
At $70 a pop, the
registration fees for the .XXX domain are higher than what's normally charged
for .com addresses. Industry members argued this makes it very expensive for
Website operators and businesses being forced to register their names under the
new suffix to protect their brand and also defensively register related terms.
ICM has already pre-sold more than a quarter million domains in anticipation of
ICM is set to make at least
$200 million a year and see between 3 million and 5 million domain
registrations as companies defensively register their domains, Lawley told
A portion of the
registration fees will be funneled to an ICM-affiliated non-profit protecting
children online, according to Lawley.
ICANN has refused to allow a
specific TLD for adult content since 2000, according to Wired