.XXX Decision Could Come as Early as Wednesday

.XXX Decision Could Come as Early as Wednesday
Michael Hayes
MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — An ICANN meeting May 10 could make the proposed .XXX top-level domain a reality sooner than anticipated. Or, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering could continue.

While those who have kept a close eye on .XXX have watched the issue rise and fall over the past two years at a series of international meetings, the ultimate fate of the TLD could be decided away from ICANN’s regular conferences, according to Tom Hymes, communications director for the Free Speech Coalition.

“There could be an up or down vote on the issue as early as Wednesday,” Hymes told XBIZ.

According to Hymes, ICANN made it clear at the Wellington meeting in March that .XXX could be approved prior to the next official meeting in Marrakech, Morocco this June. Hymes also said that research by the FSC revealed that the ICANN board did not need Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) support to approve .XXX.

What ICANN does require for .XXX is input from the adult entertainment community. While industry feedback has not been a new issue in the .XXX saga, concerns raised by GAC and others led ICANN to open a forum for additional industry comment April 20 to gauge sentiment among adult webmasters, rather than relying solely claims of widespread support from ICM Registry, the company that would be responsible for handling .XXX domain registrations.

To date, the lion’s share of the nearly 400 comments have voiced opposition to .XXX. The negative response to .XXX has been mirrored on GFY, with Brandon Shalton leading the charge.

While Shalton praised those who had spoken out for taking the time and having the courage to do so, he expressed dismay that so many adult webmasters had remained silent.

“Industry support has always been a key part of whether or not .XXX goes through,” Shalton told XBIZ. “Two years ago, there were pro-.XXX emails, but you’d be hard-pressed to find them now. ICM’s claim that it has industry support, just isn’t accurate and the posts show that.”

According to Shalton, ICANN won’t find posts in favor of .XXX because adult webmasters don’t really have a vested interest in the TLD going through.

Still, the fear remains that ICANN will surmise that the lack of volume from those in opposition to .XXX should be interpreted to mean that this time around those in favor of the TLD have simply chosen not to comment. A concern, according to Shalton, that is exacerbated by claims from Stuart Lawley, president of ICM Registry, that .XXX has overwhelming support from the adult industry.

“As much a fuss as a few of us have publicly made, ICANN can look at the lack of large responses as a sign that ICM must indeed have support of the adult community,” Shalton wrote on GFY.

Whether or not ICANN will approve .XXX on Wednesday remains a murky question. However, if the organization chooses to do so, Hymes believes that they “have all their ducks in a row.”