ICANN Allows .xxx Adult Domain Application to Advance
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 the impact 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 great news."