Sen. Pryor Continues .XXX Campaign Despite Opposition

Michael Hayes
WASHINGTON — Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said he would continue his effort to cordon off a section of the Internet for adult entertainment, despite ICANN’s decision to kill the proposed top-level domain .XXX in the face of U.S.-based conservative criticism and International opposition.

Pryor said he believed that the .XXX TLD would have protected children from adult content online, despite criticism from conservative opponents such as the Family Research Council, which argued that the specialized domain would have created a “red light district” on the Internet.

In March, Pryor joined Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. to introduce legislation that would have established a mandatory .XXX TLD.

The Free Speech Coalition raised questions about the constitutionality of the bill. However, ICANN’s decision to dump .XXX as a TLD altogether made the looming legal battle moot.

But Pryor is working hard to get the bill, known as the Cyber Safety for Kids Act, out of committee, urging colleagues to resurrect the legislation that directs the Commerce Department to develop the .XXX designation in cooperation with ICANN.

Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council was critical of Pryor’s attempt to revive .XXX.

"We think it's [done with] good intentions, but a horrible idea," McClusky said. "All you’re doing is legitimizing pornography. But, additionally, there's no way to enforce that pornography sites go to the .XXX domain. All we're doing is creating a red light district."

But Pryor said that his conservative critics miss the point when it comes to protecting children from pornography online.

"Basically the Bush administration has taken the view that if we set up the .XXX domain, it might lead to the proliferation of pornography on the Internet," Pryor said. "Well, I've got news for them. It is prolific. I don’t think we can bury our heads in the sand."