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Objections to .XXX, Attention in High Places

Suresh Ramasubramanian

Dot XXX is in for some interesting times, I fear. First the ICANN GAC chair Sharil Tarmizi is suggesting that more time be given for government and public policy feedback on .XXX.

Objections certainly have started to come in from rather high places, such as from the US Department of Commerce.

Personally speaking I'm inclined to be in favor of .XXX because it at least gives people in the adult entertainment industry their own online space and a stronger voice (gTLD) - and while they may choose to segregate themselves, .xxx can by itself be a quite good way to deflect some of the wilder critics of online adult entertainment who seek to shut it down entirely.  Adult entertainment has its own place, and its own customers. 

And if membership in the .XXX gTLD also carries with it a code of conduct of some sort, where members agree to abide by some ethics (no child pornography, no porn spamming etc) there might be even more value attached to it, as a mark of responsible adult entertainers rather than peddlers of sleaze.

Anyway back to the content that started this post:

From: Mohd Sharil Tarmizi
To: ICANN Board of Directors
Cc: Government Advisory Committee
Subject: Concerns about contract for approval of new top level domain
Date: Friday, August 12, 2005

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the Board is scheduled to consider approval of a contract for a new top level domain intended to be used for adult content. I am omitting the specific TLD here because experience shows that some email systems filter out anything containing the three letters associated with the TLD.

You may recall that during the session between the GAC and the Board in Luxembourg that some countries had expressed strong positions to the Board on this issue. In other GAC sessions, a number of other governments also expressed some concern with the potential introduction of this TLD. The views are diverse and wide ranging. Although not necessarily well articulated in Luxembourg; as Chairman, I believe there remains a strong sense of discomfort in the GAC about the TLD, notwithstanding the explanations to date.

I have been approached by some of these governments and I have advised them that apart from the advice given in relation to the creation of new gTLDs in the Luxembourg Communique that implicitly refers to the proposed TLD, sovereign governments are also free to write directly to ICANN about their specific concerns.

In this regard, I would like to bring to the Board's attention the possibility that several governments will choose to take this course of action. I would like to request that in any further debate that we may have with regard to this TLD that we keep this background in mind.

Based on the foregoing, I believe the Board should allow time for additional governmental and public policy concerns to be expressed before reaching a final decision on this TLD.

Thanks and best regards,

Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi
Chairman, GAC
ICANN

Recent News.com article: "Bush administration objects to .xxx domains" (By Declan McCullagh),

[...]

The Bush administration is objecting to the creation of a .xxx domain,
saying it has concerns about a virtual red-light district reserved
exclusively for Internet pornography.

Michael Gallagher, assistant secretary at the Commerce Department, has asked
for a hold to be placed on the contract to run the new top-level domain
until the .xxx suffix can receive further scrutiny. The domain was scheduled to receive final approval Tuesday.

"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," Gallagher said in a letter that was made public on
Monday.

[...]

By Suresh Ramasubramanian, Architect, Antispam and Compliance

Related topics: DNS, ICANN, Spam, Top-Level Domains

WEEKLY WRAP — Get CircleID's Weekly Summary Report by Email:

Comments

Re: Objections to .XXX, Attention in High Places Jothan Frakes  –  Aug 16, 2005 9:41 AM PST

I am shocked by the oversimplification and posturing made by those opposing the new extension.

As a parent, I want the ability to block an entire TLD, which the introduction of this extension would allow.

The reaction to freeze the process seems to be somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction, and contrary to the progress seen in moving forward such other extensions as .EU, .mobi, and .travel.

I was skeptical of the new extension myself initially, but I listened as Stuart Lawley of ICM Registry gave a presentation on the .xxx TLD at the Domain Roundtable Conference this past May.  He answered very pointed questions and discussed the TLD structure, and outlined the role and structure of the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR.ORG) in the oversight and policy of the TLD.

The IFFOR essentially governs the TLD, and has a staunch child protection focus, and their mandate seems to promote responsible business practices within the TLD.

Granted, .xxx is controversial; however, were detractors to actually review the plans, and to consult those with knowledge about the way the internet works, they might realise that the opposition shoot themselves in the foot.

Adult or objectionable material in other TLD extensions has happened, and will continue to happen with or without a .xxx top level domain.

The creation of a .xxx TLD would give parents the ability to block an entire TLD from being accessed by a computer with trivial effort — something that gives unprecedented parental advantage.

The approach taken by ICM Registry to ensure responsible conduct and the IFFOR to help self govern this extension lends itself towards that objective.

The argument that detractors are making seems to indicate that adding a .xxx extension is going to introduce porn to the internet, or make it easier for the adult industry to invade homes.

This is not the creation of a red-light district on the internet pornographic material is likely one of the largest industries on the internet today, with websites ending in almost every extension — .com, .net, .org, etc.

This new extension is the voluntary migration of adult content producers to a sponsored TLD that fosters self regulation, and allows me to shut the whole thing off for computers I operate making parental guidance simpler.

I wonder if detractors have thought this through enough to realize that they perpetuate the unmanageable tangle that exists to solutions by pushing the status quo? What could be hurt by trying something designed to make ways to improve the current situation?

Re: Objections to .XXX, Attention in High Places Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Aug 16, 2005 9:58 AM PST

I rather suspect the sequence goes like this -

Various representatives in the GAC and other quarters of ICANN where governments have representation see the issues, debate it for quite some time till there's not much left to debate

And governments = not just GAC. Even *NSOs for example may have government representatives, where there's an incumbent monopoly telco + ISP in a country, serving as registry + registrar + NIR

The trouble of course being that "government" is a huge and in several cases quite public sensitive beast.  .XXX has been around as a concept for years and on the discussion tables for years as well.

Only when it got approved and pushed out did it hit all the headlines, not just in Politech or Wired but in the Podunk Gazette and the Backwoodsville Tribune as well.

Now that means people who wouldnt know what a ccTLD is if it bit them will write to their senators. 

And it means that anti porn activist groups will start lobbying and astroturf campaigns [nothing wrong with astroturf and lobbying, lots of sites on both ends of the political spectrum ranging from neocon all the way to california libertarian do it all the time, but still ..]

And there's going to be a lot of discussion in those parts of government, who even if consulted would have more or less ignored it, or signed it and filed a copy. 

And also at far higher levels that are less bureaucrat (which you'd see at icann) and more politician in nature, and thus more sensitive to lobbyists (and yes, to voters as well).

Questions - even those which might have been beaten to death early on in internal icann discussion forums, and possibly in public comments to icann + on various igov lists over the years - would be brought up, rehashed and asked by a group of people who have, shall we say, a different set of priorities.

Re: Objections to .XXX, Attention in High Places Anonymous Coward  –  Sep 09, 2005 1:00 AM PST

Hi.
Even assuming it is good to add a domain to specify adult content, I still disagree with the use of *.xxx

(1)
What does *.xxx really mean? Probably it means to be something bad or very bad (so there're 3 crosses - xxx. No! No! No! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!).

Think twice. Bad things are NOT the equivalents of adult contents. Many things can be considered bad but are not related to porngraphy.
*.xxx is somewhat a misnomer.

(2)
Another problem is it poses bad impression on the word 'xxx'. Some websites use as part of thier names unfortunately. This will give people wrong impressions that their websites contain adult contents.

If 'xxx' is supposed to be bad, how about 'xx', or 'xxxx' and so on? Are they considered bad as well?

Two 'x'

Innocent Three 'x'
These sites come at the first page of Google
http://xxx.lanl.gov/ (a government which supplies porns?)
http://www.xxx.co.at/intro/index.php (another company which entertains adults?)

Four 'x'

(3)
We need to learn what 'xxx' is.
When a computing newbie looks at the word 'xxx', the name itself gives him no good clue what it is about. If he wishes to find an answer, he probably has to read some articles before figuring it out what 'xxx' mean when it comes to Top-Level domains.

I'm a person who likes to make things clear and obvious, and reduce the chance of confusion/misunderstanding. Why not use better alternatives?

(4)
I propse these top-level domains instead:
.adu
.adult
.porn

If you ask me, *.porn is the best. Porn is the short form of porngraphy. *.porn is the most obvious. When I search for Google, I couldn't find any innocent websites at the first few pages.

The word 'porn' accurately and clearly convey its very own meaning to every reader. No acquisiton/learning is required. No confusion. No mis-labelling.

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