Push resumes for new .xxx domain for Internet pornography

WASHINGTON (BP)--Efforts to create a .xxx domain name for pornographic websites have resumed, and conservative leaders are urging citizens to speak out against the proposal while the agency in charge is taking public comments through Feb. 5.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a private agency that oversees Internet operation, rejected a similar proposal last May but is revisiting the matter after adding stronger provisions to prohibit child pornography and to require labeling of sites with sexually explicit materials.

Supporters say the creation of an .xxx domain will separate pornographers from the rest of the Internet, making it easier to filter pornographic sites. Use of the domain name would be voluntary, and pornographers could still use their popular .com names as well.

The Family Research Council is opposed to the .xxx domain name.

“FRC opposed this action the first time around, on the grounds that it would be unenforceable -- and grant a legitimizing status to the porn industry,” Jared Bridges, web editor for FRC, wrote on the group’s blog Jan. 9. “While there have been a few revisions to the initial proposal, they don't appear to offer much incentive for pornographers to leave the .com domain.

“The domains that are available today including .com, .net, .gov, .edu, .us, etc., represent certain areas of societal value,” Bridges added. “The proposed revisions do nothing to address the fact that granting a niche business its own top-level domain name would be unique to pornographers, who would gain a status currently only available to groups like schools, governments and nations.”

In 2005, when the .xxx domain idea was presented, FRC’s senior legal counsel said it would do more harm than good.

“The .com domain has been a cash cow for the porn industry and pornographers will not give it up and remove themselves to the .xxx domain,” Patrick Trueman said. “Instead, they will populate the .xxx domain and perhaps double the number of porn sites available on the Web.”

Trueman, who once served as chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, also said the .xxx domain “cloaks the porn industry with legitimacy” and may discourage law enforcement from bringing obscenity cases on the notion that the problem is solved.

The American Family Association sent an e-mail to its supporters Jan. 9, asking them to voice their opposition to the new domain.

“ICANN would ask the pornographers to voluntarily move to the new triple X domain which would contain nothing but pornography,” Don Wildmon, chairmain of AFA, wrote. “There would be no law to force them to the new triple X domain. ICANN would depend on the good character and integrity of the pornographers to be considerate of others, including our children.

“In addition to having the triple X domain, the pornographers could (and would) continue sending out billions of pornographic images on their other existing domains,” Wildmon added. “As bad as pornography is on the Internet now, it would be infinitely worse with the triple X domain. The establishment of a triple X domain would give legitimacy to the pornographers.”

Concerned Women for America vigorously sought to block the implementation of a domain for pornographic websites because the group did not believe it would help curb children’s access to sexually graphic materials.

“We objected for many reasons, but the most obvious was that porn sites would be free to keep all of their current domains, such as .com, and add the .xxx domain,” Jan LaRue, chief counsel for CWA, said in May. “Anybody who thinks that would help parents protect kids from porn on the Internet has crashed in the cranium.”

Ray Sanders, executive editor of the Baptist Messenger newspaper in Oklahoma, wrote a recent editorial on the matter, urging readers to contact ICANN and encourage the agency to reject the proposal.

“In the name of entertainment and education, society has already succeeded in calling gambling ‘gaming,’” Sanders wrote. “Now pornographers are trying to convince us that filth is art and education by designating Web sites with a self-descriptive labeling system. We don’t need more pornography; we need to empty ourselves of the pornographic trash we already have.”

Comments may be sent to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers at xxx-icm-agreement@icann.org.

“Register your complaint today,” Sanders wrote. “You can make a difference.”

Compiled by Erin Roach.

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