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ICANN Approves .XXX

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), in its board meeting in San Francisco on Friday, approved the .xxx Top-Level Domain. The ICANN board members voted 8 for, 3 against, 4 abstain. While the decision still has to undergo final review with IANA and the US Department of Commerce, it appear that ICANN's decade-long, most controversial Top-Level Domain application to date has now concluded.

In a statement today, Stuart Lawley, CEO of ICM Registry, the company behind .XXX, said: "ICANN's decision to give .XXX final approval is a landmark moment for the internet. For the first time there will be a clearly defined web address for adult entertainment, out of the reach of minors and as free as possible from fraud or malicious computer viruses. We believe consumers will be more prepared to make purchases on .XXX sites, safe in the knowledge their payments will be secure. Tens of thousands of adult entertainment website owners recognize the business benefits of .XXX and have already applied to pre-reserve over 200,000 .XXX domains."

ICANN, in follow up to it's .xxx approval today, has released a draft document titled, "Rationale for Approving Registry Agreement with ICM's for .XXX sTLD". The draft which is not yet final until approved with the minutes of the ICANN Board meeting, states:

"The .XXX sTLD issue has been debated within ICANN for years. Since shortly after the 2004 introduction of the request for proposals for sTLDs, the ICANN Board has been faced with several contentious debates and decisions on ICM Registry's application. The ICANN community has engaged in extensive debate as well, with this single issue generating higher volumes of community comment than nearly any other issue ever faced within ICANN. Consideration of the .XXX sTLD has tested the resiliency of ICANN, its commitment to adhere to its accountability mechanisms, and has brought to the forefront issues of how the Board considers and addresses advice from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)."

Update: Mar 19, 2011 – In response to ICANN's approval of .xxx in San Francisco meeting, Karl Auerbach, notes in the IP mailing list that the process is far from complete yet. He writes:

"By-the-way, the .xxx thing isn't done yet — there are still more barriers to be crossed.

First is the contract negotiation between ICANN and ICM (the .xxx applicant.) This probably won't be a big issue.

Second is whether NTIA will accept or reject ICANN's decision. (NTIA is involved because it is NTIA that actually issues order to the manager of the actual root zone file, Verisign, to make the necessary updates to the file contents.) This acceptance by NTIA could become a huge political issue.

Third is whether Verisign honors the order from NTIA. There's no particular reason to think Verisign would not, I'm just listing it for completeness.

Fourth is whether root server operators will accept a root zone file that contains .xxx or whether they will remove the .xxx entries before they publish it via their servers. This could be a messy issue, particularly root server operators are not bound by a clear contractual matrix and are largely free to act as they individually choose. They tend to act in concert, but that is merely a tendency and not a binding commitment.

Fifth is that there are root server instances in many different countries (for instance the F-root has something on the order of 150 clusters of servers located around the world). It is not inconceivable that some of those countries may try to impose their own laws on root server operations within their borders. (If this were to occur things would become very ugly.)

Sixth there will probably be a lot of ISPs and software packages that impose a blanket block DNS queries for .xxx simply on the grounds of e-nannyism rather than specific user requests."

Update: Mar 20, 2011 – Interview with ICANN CEO, Rod Beckstrom, and Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush, in San Francisco, discussing the .XXX decision:

Related Links:
ICANN Approves New .XXX Top Level Domain Domain Name Wire, Mar.18.2011
ICANN Approves .XXX Domain PCMag.com, Mar.18.2011
ICANN Approves .XXX Again, Naseem Javed, CircleID, Mar.18.2011
Porn-friendly .xxx domains are a go CNet, Mar.18.2011
ICANN grants .xxx but delays opening domain gates AFP, Mar.18.2011
Why ICANN's Approval of the XXX domain is an important precedent Milton Mueller, Mar.19.2011
How ICANN overruled governments on .xxx DomainIncite, Mar.19.2011

Updates:  UPDATED Mar 19, 2011 1:51 PM PDT
The Official Release from ICM Registry, the company behind .XXX ICM Registry, Mar.18.2011
Rationale for Approving Registry Agreement with ICM's for .XXX sTLD [PDF] ICANN, Mar.18.2011
ICM sees 30,000 .xxx reservations in a day DomainIncite, Mar.19.2011

Related topics: ICANN, Top-Level Domains


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