opinion

Regarding: .XXX TLD

J. D. Obenberger and Reed Lee
Editor's note: The following is a letter sent by noted adult industry attorneys J. D. Obenberger and Reed Lee to ICANN, outlining some of the reasons that the "dot xxx" TLD should not be adopted. A well thought out, logical and eloquent statement, I present it for your consideration:

We are Free Speech lawyers in Chicago with considerable experience in defending criminal obscenity cases and in providing advice and guidance to the ongoing operations of adult-oriented, erotic websites. We write on our own behalf rather than on behalf of any particular client, though it is my strong impression that the large majority of our clients embrace the sentiments expressed in this letter.

We write in opposition to the creation and implementation of the proposed .xxx Top Level Domain.

As we all know, the Internet has now begun radically transforming the way the human race communicates and indeed the way that mankind looks at itself. It dramatically changes the way individuals look at this world and the people in it. It is an instrument of knowledge, persuasion, and transformation of a dimension never seen before.

The Internet is the realm of commerce and industry, science and technology, and the arts and humanities alike. As an information highway, it serves the mature and adult purposes of the world and it grows to serve them better. The technical means established for this function must be designed with that mature and adult purpose in mind.

Those who would aspire to make the Internet safe for children should better consider how autobahns and interstate highways might be safe for children to play upon. Massive trucks, sometimes carrying toxic substances, barrel along these thoroughfares on a constant and unremitting basis, and that is frankly one of the chief purposes behind the construction of highways. To render the interstate highways safe for children at play by banning such traffic would deprive society of the adult purpose behind the road. The place for children to play is in designated and protected places that are not in the midst of adult traffic.

As the Internet grows in acceptance, penetration, utility, and effectiveness - as it becomes more necessary in the affairs of the world - there are those parochial interests that wish to control the content and appeal of the information content. Some wish to do so for political reasons and others for social or moral reasons. (In the end, they will all fail, for there is no stopping ideas, arguments, and truth.)

Some have argued for the logical segregation of erotic and/or sexually-oriented materials into a separate top-level domain. Some of them plot and plan for the censorship of such material once the domain has been created and its use made mandatory by local law. The creation of such a TLD is the necessary first step in such a plan and this is where the enterprise should be halted. The existence of such a domain facilitates Internet filtering by moralistic governments with the aim of affecting the ideas and concepts their residents may see and the alternative moral schemes to which they are exposed. The segregation of thought, entertainment, and ideas because of content and appeal is a dangerous first step towards local and parochial control over the global Internet. It paves the way for TLDs aimed at religious and political content.

Finally, I must note that an enormous amount of money and time has been spent in the promotion of this enterprise by those who stand to profit from it. Because there is essentially no demand for this TLD from within the adult Internet industry, it can only be surmised that their business plan includes cross-registrations from existing adult .com TLD registrants in order to protect against infringing use of a domain name in the .xxx TLD - and the potential gold mine of legally mandated use the TLD. Both of these income streams are created or potentially created because of fear or coercion arising merely because the proposed TLD will exist. My own sense of ethics suggests that what the promoters are foisting on ICANN amounts to a disreputable business scheme of creating profit from a thing of no legitimate value whatsoever to any person.

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