Media Comments on ICANN’s Approval of .XXX (or Who’s Idea Was This Anyway?)

FSC has returned from San Francisco where, last week, we protested the now-approved .XXX sTLD and brought the adult industry’s concerns in front of the ICANN Board, prior to ICANN’s decision on Friday. Despite ongoing opposition reaching back to 2007, as well as our best efforts to demonstrate the adult industry’s complete lack of support for the “sponsored TLD,” the ICANN Board voted 9-3 to approve (with four abstentions, including ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom).

Controversy has raged over the .XXX domain since 2005, when the Bush Administration wrote in a letter to ICANN, “The Department of Commerce has received nearly 6,000 letters and e-mails [about .XXX] from individuals expressing concern about the impact of pornography on families and children.”

Flash forward to March 17, 2011: The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) read this statement to the ICANN Board the morning before the domain was approved:

“There is no active support of the GAC for the introduction of the .XXX top-level domain.

“While there are members which neither endorse nor oppose the introduction of the .XXX top-level domain, others are emphatically opposed from a public policy perspective to the introduction of a .XXX top-level domain.

“Furthermore, the GAC would like to inform the ICANN board that an introduction of a .XXX top-level domain into the root might lead to steps taken by some governments to prohibit access to this TLD.

“The GAC, therefore, calls the board’s attention to concerns expressed by experts that such steps bear a potential risk or threat to the universal resolvability and stability of the domain name system.

“Moreover, the GAC does not consider the information provided by the board to have answered the GAC concerns as to whether the ICM application meets the sponsorship criteria.

“The GAC further shares concerns expressed by others that with the revised proposed ICANN/ICM Registry agreement, the corporation could be moving towards assuming an ongoing management and oversight role regarding internet content, which could be inconsistent with its technical mandate.

“The GAC looks forward to the board clarifying the basis for its Dec. 10, 2010, decision regarding .XXX.

“The GAC expects that this would include a response to the substantial objections received from the community and reference to ICANN’s role as a public benefit corporation.”

That was GAC making itself clear on the .XXX issue; however, the Obama Administration didn’t issue a statement until after the domain had been approved.

“We are disappointed that ICANN ignored the clear advice of governments worldwide, including the U.S,” said Asst Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickland. “This decision goes against the global public interest, and it will open the door to more Internet blocking by governments and undermine the stability and security of the Internet.”

Both before and after the vote, media outlets analyzed the motivation behind ICANN’s decision in favor of ICM’s long held-up proposal, and who would benefit from the Internet’s first content-based domain.

“Since the regular domains will still be in place, one has to wonder if the committee’s claim it will protect children was accurate and not also motivated by the added revenue the new domain will generate,” said SearchEngineWatch.com.

“Parents would be able to block the entire domain from being accessed, as opposed to tracking adult content using a .com site – but few people really know how to do that and would need to be shown. So that argument is not strong.

“Google could filter using the domain but one has to wonder if they would,” the story concluded.

Perhaps, for the first time in the history of the world, Republican and Democratic administrations, right-wing religious moral activists and the adult industry stood on common ground – they all opposed the creation of .XXX.

Here’s what the Christian Post said about the ICANN’s approval:

“Type ‘porn’ in Google and you get over half a billion results.

“But expect the number of pornography websites to explode now that ICANN has approved the .xxx domain – essentially creating a red light district on the Internet…

“‘I think this is a dumb decision and just adds more porn to the web and makes the web once again known for porn,’ Craig Gross, co-founder of XXXChurch.com, a ministry which helps people overcome their addiction to pornography, wrote Saturday.”

ICM Registry, .XXX’s sponsor, tweeted on Thursday that it had reached nearly 300,000 pre-registrations for urls. With potential for generating millions of dollars in fees to adult webmasters, it seemed that many of those in support of .XXX would benefit from reselling domain names. It also was clear that a great many of those had been defensive pre-registrations by adult online business in an effort to protect their brands and prevent squatting – but it remained unclear if those defensive pre-registrations could be counted as a show of support.

Veteran ICANN insider Steve DelBiano, director of the NetChoice Coalition, tried to explain ICANN’s decision on CNET.com, “… the board was in a difficult position: if they rejected Lawley’s proposal for .xxx, they’d face a lawsuit, yet someone else would surely bid for it during the next round of applications expected later this year.”

In any case, .XXX addresses are anticipated to start rolling out in the third quarter of the year, despite the opposition.

NetworkWorld.com described what adult webmasters will be subjected to by ICM Registry and its regulatory IFFOR Board if they choose a .XXX url:

“Anyone who wants to register a .xxx domain will first have to go through an application process that’s approved by the International Foundation for Online Responsibility. This procedure is intended to ensure that .xxx domains don’t engage in fraud, child pornography and other practices. At the same time, having a domain set aside specifically for adult websites would make it easier for users to block such sites from their browsing experience.”

Overall, media comments after the ICANN resolution were mixed, and many seemed disparaging.

TechCrunch.com called the new domain addresses “.XXX brothels,”  and Wired.com called .XXX an online “red light district.”

Wired’s story pointed out that adult webmasters will have the privilege of paying to preserve their brand and intellectual property: “… The domains will be limited to the adult industry, and ICM says adult sites that already own .com TLDs will be able to reserve their .XXX domains early so that they can ‘protect their brand names and intellectual property rights within .XXX.’”

Not to mention the censorship issue; those .XXX addresses will also make it easier for whole countries to block adult online businesses – and Germany, Australia, Thailand and China have already stated that they would be likely to do just that.

Gothamist.com noted that while ICM claims that .XXX will make it “… easier to filter out inappropriate content… ‘some [ICANN] board members viewed as a dangerous step toward censorship.’”

TheNewsChronicle.com declared simply, “It might now be easier to block NSFW sites!”

FSC will continue to advise its members and the adult industry on developments with .XXX, and once we get back in the office tomorrow, news will be forthcoming. We would like to thank all industry members that follow @FSCArmy and retweeted our messages during the conference. Despite the unfavorable decision, your voices were heard loud and clear.

We also would like to take a moment to thank the industry leaders that attended the ICANN meeting on Thursday to voice their opposition, including Evil Angel’s John Stagliano, Pink Visual’s Allison Vivas, Kink.com’s Peter Acworth, Wasteland.com’s Colin Rowntree, YNOT’s Connor Young, Adult Webmaster Empire’s Douglas Richter, Girlfriends Films’ Dan O’Connell, attorneys Paul Cambria and Allan Gelbard, attorneys and FSC Board members Jeffrey Douglas and Reed Lee, FSC Board President Sid Grief – also the industry professionals from Kink.com and NakedSword.com that joined in the protest rally, as well as performers Jiz Lee and Kara Price.

FSC Board member and Evil Angel General Manager Christian Mann was unable to join us in San Francisco, but said to XBIZ.com, “I’m not surprised as we knew we were facing pressure from forces with resources, money and questionable agendas. I realize that on the surface, the issues are complex which makes it harder to get people outside of the industry to understand the inherent risks.

“I had hoped that ICANN board members would have known better than to go along with this flawed plan. I was wrong about that. I also know that it’s too soon to see the fallout and whether or not there is still a challenge to be made.

“There are many battles yet to be fought and the FSC remains the trade association for any company or individual in the adult entertainment business,” he added.

We thank you all, for your support. – jc

(Illustration: Osmar Schindler, David and Goliath, 1888)

One Response to Media Comments on ICANN’s Approval of .XXX (or Who’s Idea Was This Anyway?)

  1. [...] Media Comments on ICANN’s Approval of .XXX (or Who’s Idea Was This Anyway?) Posted on March 21, 2011 by admin Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginFSC has returned from San Francisco where, last week, we protested the now-approved .XXX sTLD and brought the adult industry’s concerns in front of the ICANN Board, prior to ICANN’s decision on Friday. Despite ongoing opposition reaching back to 2007, as well as our best efforts to demonstrate the adult industry’s complete lack of support [...] FSC Blog [...]

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