ICANN's board of directors agreed to allow the application for an .xxx domain for adult entertainment sites to move forward. Proponents say an .xxx domain will help Web filtering efforts, but its impact may not be as great as some think.
The board of directors for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN) voted today to allow the longstanding application for
an .xxx domain for the adult entertainment industry to move forward.
The application will now move on to ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee.
The creation of a top-level domain for adult sites has been an ongoing
discussion for several years. ICM Registry,
a private company that is pushing for the domain, heralded the board's decision
and said it expects to go live with .xxx domains at the start of 2011.
But the creation of a top-level domain for adult-themed sites may not have
on Web security some hope, and while ICM
notes the domain will enable filters to more effectively label content, there
is no provision to force adult sites to switch to .xxx from other domains.
"Expecting pornographers to voluntary give up their successful .com addresses
and locate solely on the .xxx domain is both foolish and shortsighted,"
said Donna Rice Hughes, president of Enough Is Enough, in a statement. "Arguments
presented suggesting that the U.S. Congress will be able to pass a law to
require all pornographers to leave the .xxx space would likely not pass, and
even if passed, would likely be either struck down in the federal courts or be
unenforced. Historically, all attempts by Congress to regulate Internet
pornography have not been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court."
Without such a rule, the impact on Web filtering by businesses, parents
and schools is unlikely to be game-changing.
"It might make it easier for a user to realize that the link is going
to an adult site, but parental control software will not necessarily assume
adult sites are concentrated in this new domain and will continue to track and
classify sites in all major domains," said Vincent Weafer, vice president
of Symantec Security Response.
One could argue a rule forcing adult sites to only use .xxx would make
it easier for end users to recognize the sites, he added, but "I don't see
this happening or being enforceable on a global basis."
Changing the domain also won't change the sites' popularity for attackers,
Weafer said, "as recent changes in the threat landscape have shown us that
attackers are injecting their malicious scripts into multiple types of
legitimate Websites, which in turn lead to malicious code downloads. So,
concentrating adult sites within the .xxx domain will not impact this trend."
According to ICM, having an .xxx domain
will help people who do not want to encounter adult sites to avoid them.
"It's been a long time coming, but I'm excited about the fact that .xxx
will soon become a reality," ICM
Chairman Stuart Lawley said in a statement on the ICANN decision. "This is