Backer of .xxx adult domain tries again

Entrepreneur hoping to create virtual red light district says pressure from conservative groups derailed .xxx last month.

A Florida company behind the .xxx domain, intended to be used for online pornography, is trying once again to have it approved.

By a 9-to-5 vote last month, the Internet's governing body shot down the idea of a virtual red-light district after the Bush administration and some other national governments expressed strong objections.

But ICM Registry said Friday that it was going to ask the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, to reconsider.

In addition, ICM Registry released 88 pages of documents (click here for PDF) that it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act--and that show how politicized the debate over .xxx had become inside the Bush administration last summer.

It was publicly known that conservative groups in the United States called on their supporters to ask the U.S. Commerce Department to block the new suffix, but the FOIA documents reveal how aggressive the lobbying campaign last summer actually was.

Mike Hurst, an aide to Rep. Chip Pickering, a Mississippi Republican who's one of the most conservative in the House, pressured the U.S. Commerce Department not to ratify ICANN's decision--and then reported his results back to conservative Christian lobby groups.

Pickering wrote to Jim Wasilewski, the director of Commerce's Office of Congressional Affairs, that Congress is "reviewing our options here on the Hill"--Washington-speak for proposing legislation to block .xxx.

"I met with the Commerce Dept. folks today," Hurst wrote in a subsequent e-mail message on June 16, 2005, to Christian groups including the American Family Association and the Family Research Council. Hurst suggested that ICANN would be a better pressure point: "Maybe we can marshal all our resources toward ICANN?"

Another message shows that Pat Trueman from the Family Research Council and Jan LaRue met with John Kneuer, Commerce's deputy assistant secretary, on June 21.

A few weeks later, in a move unprecedented in ICANN's eight-year history, the Bush administration intervened in the .xxx process by sending a letter in August 2005 saying: "The Department of Commerce has received nearly 6,000 letters and e-mails from individuals expressing concern about the impact of pornography on families and children." ICANN had endorsed the concept of an .xxx domain in June and approval of ICM Registry's contract to run the suffix was expected to take place in a routine vote in late summer.

Commerce Department officials appeared worried about an even more public outcry from conservative groups. The Family Research Council, for instance, warned on its Web site that "pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .xxx domain."

An e-mail message dated June 16, 2005, from Fred Schwein, the department's executive secretary, said: "Who really matters in this mess is Jim Dobson. What he says on his radio program in the morning will determine how ugly this really gets--if he jumps on the bandwagon, our mail server may crash."

Featured Video
6
This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.

Google unveils a new logo

A new Google logo steals attention away from another Google announcement.

by Iyaz Akhtar