opinion

From Cartagena: ICANN Declines Approval of .XXX Until Further Negotiations with GAC

Diane Duke

At its Board meeting this morning, ICANN’s Board of Directors voted to postpone the decision to enter into a contract with ICM for a .XXX sponsored top level domain. The Board directed its staff to develop a plan for trying to resolve differences with the GAC (Government Advisory Council) through formal negotiations. Free Speech Coalition (FSC) Executive Director Diane Duke and FSC Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas were in Cartagena lobbying against ICM’s application for .XXX.

“ICANN is obligated to seek consultation from the GAC,” Douglas said. “It would have been an unwise decision to disregard GAC’s resolute opposition, potentially having grave impact on ICANN’s multi-community model. The sponsorship community is opposed, and ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee is opposed. The only entity that would have benefited from an immediate approval was ICM.”

If subsequently approved, ICM’s .XXX will bring with it a regulatory board, IFFOR (International Foundation for Online Responsibility) charged with developing “best practices” registrants would be required to follow. ICM refuses to disclose the names of those who agreed to serve on the board and develop policy for the .XXX online presence. Accordingly, the policies to which domain holders will be required to adhere have yet to be disclosed.

ICM Registry has promised a range of public interest benefits as part of its bid to operate the .xxx domain:

• Take appropriate measures to restrict access to illegal and offensive content;

• Support the development of tools and programs to protect vulnerable members of the community;

• Maintain accurate details of registrants and assist law enforcement agencies to identify and contact the owners of particular websites, if need be; and

• Act to ensure the protection of intellectual property and trademark rights, personal names, country names, names of historical, cultural and religious significance and names of geographic identifiers drawing on best practices in the development of registration and eligibility rules.

ICM revealed Tuesday during its presentation to the Intellectual Property Constituency that it would not honor the promise it made to the adult community and allow adult businesses to park their domain names for a nominal fee. However, ICM plans to provide that opportunity for mainstream companies. The Free Speech Coalition has been fighting .xxx for over 10 years, concerned with the regulatory aspect as well as the likelihood that some governments, including the US, would attempt to mandate migration to .XXX while others governments would block it altogether.

“ICM’s proposal will cost adult businesses millions and compromise the online adult industry,” Duke stated. “As the industry’s trade association it is our responsibility to guard against these types of threats. Special thanks to our sister trade associations EROS and AITA for their support and for the countless dedicated individuals and companies who donated time and resources. This is truly a collective, ongoing community effort. The adult industry should feel very proud.”

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