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Mooning the Porn Stars

Neil Schwartzman

Steve DelBianco did a great job of discussing the rocky relationship between ICANN's Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and the Board of Directors, in his piece entitled ".XXX Exposes the Naked Truth for ICANN”.

I've been keeping an eye on the adult industry press to see what their reaction is to the .XXX debacle.

But before we start, let's get something out of the way. Yes, the adult industry is the people who bring us distended boobies and bums. Shall we all get our giggles out now? Because, part of what motivated the .XXX proposal was a dismissive attitude of 'they are just porn stars, sleaze merchants, so they probably won't put much up of a fight over a bald-faced tax'. If one assumes the people working in the industry are as smart as the bimbos and studs portrayed on film, one would be sadly mistaken.

An adult industry organization, the Free Speech Coalition organized a lightly-attended protest at the ICANN meeting in a last-ditch effort to deter the .XXX initiative. I'm told that there were more smokers in front of the conference hotel than there were adult industry protesters, that may speak to the poor life-style choices of ICANN attendees more than it does to adult industry passion (feigned or otherwise) for the issue, I don't know.

One thing was made eminently clear at this point, unlike .aero .museum or any of the other sTLDS that have attained complete and utter failure, the underlying industry did not support the proposal.

Kink.com founder Peter Acworth told XBIZ he was disappointed by the ICANN decision.

".XXX was opposed by virtually every group, including GAC and its supposed 'sponsor,' the adult industry. We at Kink.com are now faced with having to spend a significant amount of money defending our brands by purchasing ridiculously overpriced domains in the .XXX space."

The money-shot here is 'defending our brands'. For example, Kink.com owns 10,000 domains. To properly avoid domain squatters and fraudsters, phishers and other criminals from illicitly setting up look-alike domains they would have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars buying domains they don't want, beyond their normal operating TLDs of .net and .com.

Part of the issue with .XXX is that domains are easily filtered, and sure enough, within days of the .XXX approval, several countries indicated they were looking at doing exactly that.

The cheekily-titled "Stiffer penalty soon for porn, obscene MMS" in the Times of India dated March 23 is behind a paywall, but the Google snippet and other re-reporting gives a good idea of what is coming down the pipe, and sure enough, the next day adult-industry trade Xbiz Newswire reported "India Plans to Block .XXX

"India along with many other countries from the Middle East and Indonesia opposed the grant of the domain in the first place, and we would proceed to block the whole domain, as it goes against the IT Act and Indian laws," said a senior official at the ministry of IT.

(India has had a revamp of their obscenity laws in the works for about a year (ostensibly to cover new media like mobile transmissions), and it is coming to fruition just in time to deal with .XXX. The full text of the existing law can be found here)

Awesome. It didn't even take a week before the censors showed up.

Based on this disincentive (other countries considering similar total bans of .XXX mentioned since this piece ran include Malaysia, Indonesia, Germany and Australia! (see Australian Sex Party: Dot-xxx May Herald the End of ICANN ), one wonders why anyone in their right mind would buy a .XXX

And, they won't. The adult industry is reacting predictably: The Free Speech Coalition announced last Friday that they were undertaking a boycott of .XXX, to avoid being forced into the porn black hole.

While not yet up on the FSC website, Ynot, an adult industry discussion forum, ran a list of their objections and strategy 'FSC Launches Anti-dot-xxx Campaign: 'Just Say No!'

Rather than setting up easily identified pointers to their .coms and .nets for the convenience of censors (which is effectively what using a .XXX does), they will simply refuse to buy into this scheme.

Congratulations to them!

There may be some among us who are secretly, or even overtly happy that the porn industry will now be easy to censor. I, for one, am anything but. I think back to the groundbreaking, courageous work of people like Hugh Hefner, Al Goldstein, Larry Flynt, George Carlin, Lenny Bruce and Howard Stern, all of whom refused to sit down and shut up, and am encouraged that the purveyors of smut, the dirty-movie sellers fall into that same continuum, and wish them every bit of success.

Free speech is a fundamental tenet of every democracy, and those who celebrate the ghettoization of adult materials, or passively sit watching this unfold would do well to remember the poem First They Came ... by Martin Niemöller.

One is tempted to update a few stanzas, along the lines of "First they came for the boobs, but I wasn't a pornstar". You get the idea. It is a slippery slope from boobies to other things we all hold dear. Don't moon a pornstar.

By Neil Schwartzman, Executive Director, The Coalition Against unsolicited Commercial Email - CAUCE. More blog posts from Neil Schwartzman can also be read here.

Related topics: Cybersquatting, Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, Law, Policy & Regulation, Registry Services, Top-Level Domains


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Free Speech Coalition blog Neil Schwartzman  –  Mar 28, 2011 11:39 AM PDT

Joanne over at FSC wrote to me and pointed out that the FSC does have a blog with all sorts of materials at http://fscblogger.wordpress.com/ - it is really worth a look. - NS

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