ICANN OKs .xxx domain name for porn sites

After turning down initial requests for a .xxx top-level domain, ICANN conditionally approves it, paving the way for adoption by porn sites.

Porn sites may soon be able to tag themselves with a .xxx address now that ICANN has given the new domain name its initial OK.

After denying several requests over the years for a new .xxx top-level domain, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) finally relented Friday by giving the new domain its conditional approval.

ICM Registry, which would manage and sell the new domain name to porn sites, has waged a long struggle to get .xxx accepted by ICANN as a top-level domain, only to get a thumb's down at each turn. ICM's Chairman Stuart Lawley has consistently touted the .xxx domain as a way to segregate and safely filter out adult entertainment sites. However, conservative groups have in the past lobbied Washington and reportedly pressured ICANN to deny the request.

But after acknowledging that its refusal to accept .xxx was "not consistent with the application of neutral, objective, and fair documented policy," ICANN agreed to review the proposal once again, according to the Associated Press.

On the ICM Web site, Lawley said of ICANN's decision: "It's been a long time coming, but I'm excited about the fact that .xxx will soon become a reality. This is great news." Lawley added that the decision brings to fruition a six-year effort to create a specific Web address for online adult entertainment, and comes on the heels of an independent review that declared that ICANN's previous decision to deny .xxx was wrong.

Though ICM is declaring victory, ICANN's final and official approval of the new domain is not quite a done deal yet and faces some red tape that could delay the new domain's debut.

In an e-mail to CNET, Lawley said ICANN agreed Friday to check his company's financial and technical ability to run the new registry, which he claimed is a simple exercise. The next step, according to Lawley, would be to negotiate a contract that takes into account recommendations from the Government Advisory Committee, which advises ICANN on issues of public policy. Then the matter would go to ICANN's board for final approval. Lawley said he's hopeful that ICANN will sign the final contract at its next board meeting in October, clearing the way to go live with .xxx domains at the start of next year.

ICM said it already has 110,000 pre-reservations from sites looking to adopt the new address and expects that number to increase once ICANN grants formal approval.

After final approval comes through, the .xxx domain name would become a new top-level domain, like .com, .net., .org., and .edu. The .xxx name would be strictly voluntary, only to adult sites that wished to adopt it.

Lawley expects to make $30 million a year in sales by selling each .xxx site for $60, according to the AP, but is promising to donate $10 from each sale to child protection initiatives through a nonprofit group that he has set up.

He's also looking to establish a standard code of practices that adult sites with the .xxx domain name would follow. The code would address such issues as deceptive marketing practices, the use of malware, practices designed to attract children or suggest child pornography, and the misuse of personal information. Lawley believes that the new domain and practices would help porn sites face fewer complaints and enjoy greater customer retention.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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