Update: in spite of opposition from members of the adult industry, ICANN has approved .xxx (story here). The Free Coalition has stated that: “In the coming days and weeks, [we] will provide information about .XXX and alternatives for the adult entertainment industry.”
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Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day – leprechauns, cops, green beer… no idea. But while the rest of us were out carousing in kelly green, some extremely dedicated and passionate persons were defending our civil rights by voicing their opposition to the sTLD, .xxx
“What’s that?” you ask. Well, I’ve written about this issue quite a bit…
Unlike generic top level domains (gTLD; ie .com), a sponsored top level domains (sTLD) is intended to serve and/or represent a specific community. For a mere $45K, a third party may propose a new sTLD to the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN then reviews the proposal; and, if approved, the same afore-mentioned third party (not ICANN) manages the domain. Persons/entities wanting a particular sTLD in their url must meet the criteria for “specific community served” set forth by whatever version of the proposal is finalized.
So for example, the sTLD .edu is reserved for accredited postsecondary institutions in the US only. Now, .edu has been around since the interweb’s veritable inception (1985); but it only became super-restricted in 2001. Consequently, a few rouge .edus exist; however, if you’re a legit college today and want to get a .edu, you must meet some criteria for “specific community served” and you must buy your domain from Educause (the “third party” in this example).
Thus, as a citizen of the world with access to a computer and a credit card, I may purchase the gTLD PVVOnline.com; but, because I am not an accredited post secondary institution, I cannot have (buy or otherwise) the sTLD PVVOnline.edu. Make sense?
The sTLD .xxx was originally proposed as a sponsored top level domain (sTLD) in 2004 by the corporation ICM Registry (the “third party” in this example). ICM’s proposal for .xxx has since been rejected by ICANN multiple times, and many US communities have voiced strong opposition to .xxx.
For example, many adult industry insiders fear the inevitability of a highly stigmatizing (virtual) red light district. For sure .xxx is quite the attention grabber, thus making porn and the porn consumer very easily identifiable (which definitely has its own problematic points); and it would be rather easy for parents and employers to limit access to all .xxx sites… but what about sites that continue to put up adult content under the gTLD .com? .xxx will not filter that content. This is one concern voiced by child protection advocates and by the adult community (incidentally, these groups are not mutually exclusive).
Whatsmore, .xxx domains will cost anywhere from $60 – $70 annually. This price is waaay higher than the cost of your average domain. For example, PVVOnline.com costs me about $20 for two years worth of access. If you add up every possible iteration and misspelling of any domain name, then multiply that by the roughly tripled cost, and then cut the “rent” time in half… well, you do the math. Someone (ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley perhaps…) stands to make a lot of money via .xxx, while others (adult industry webmasters perhaps…) will be hit with a huge expenditure.
Needless to say, there are a lot of issues surrounding .xxx. You can read about some of them here.
And also needless to say, the adult industry is not taking this lying down (hehe). Industry insiders have started a “Truth About .xxx”-type campaign (read about that here), and they’ve also spearheaded a letter writing campaign (you can read the letter I wrote to ICANN in opposition to .xxx and in support of the industry here – rabble rouser!!).
And yesterday, while we were drinking, members of the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), industry insiders, and industry supporters demonstrated outside an ICANN meeting in San Francisco, CA. The FSC, who organized the protest, claimed that .xxx would add unnecessary cost, paper work, etc to an an industry that’s already operating smoothly. According to various reports, about one to two dozen persons marched outside the Westin Hotel in San Francisco’s Union Square, where the meetings were held. (solid coverage here)
This issue has been volleyed back and forth since 2004, with many proclamations of “today we will make a decision” on the part of ICANN. Presumably, they will fiiinally make a decision today, March 18, this morning. My ever-skeptical self is more than a little incredulous, but still – eek!!
What will happen? What do you think of .xxx? Email me!!
And for your viewing pleasure, some video footage of demonstrators below… Can you spot Sid?
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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”