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Are You Ready for .XXX Action?

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Well, it seems that the moment is upon us. That much dreaded or dreamed of day — you choose which, we won’t judge — when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approves the use of dot.XXX as a top-level domain.

ICANN junkies and readers of Techland know that ICANN is a non-profit California corporation that oversees the creation of top-level domains (TLD) such as .com and .biz. It also oversees “sponsored” TLDs, which typically are created by industry interest groups — the aeronautic industry has .aero, for example.

As Politico explains, the origins of .xxx were laid back in 2005, when a Florida company named ICM Registry applied to introduce the domain as a standard for the adult-entertainment industry. ICANN initially denied the request, which prompted a lawsuit and an eventual overturning of that decision by an administrative panel, thus handing the issue back to ICANN. Unless the Obama Administration steps in at the last moment, ICANN is expected to approve the TLD today. And if so, expect the domain to be active by this summer.

Proponents of .xxx claim that the designation would make it easier for parents, employers and school officials to control what minors see online. The main opposition comes from religious organizations fearful that even more pornographic organizations will emerge if .xxx is allowed. (The argument being that in addition to their existing .com domains, adult entertainment sites would also buy the new .xxx suffix, effectively doubling the number of sites displaying explicit material. Surprisingly, some adult industry advocates agree that .xxx should not be approved. Their argument? That it would increase illegal censorship and blocking of adult domains, given that the definition of pornography differs greatly by jurisdiction.

ICM Registry, by the way, claimed to have undertaken the .xxx cause for altruistic reasons. In a statement last June to PC World, ICM Chairman Stuart Lawley insisted that the company was a “completely independent entity with no affiliation, current or historic, with the adult entertainment industry.” Even so, Lawley said, he was “excited” about the idea of .xxx, adding that, “It’s been a long time coming.”

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