ICANN Shoots Down ICM’s .XXX Proposal

ICANN Shoots Down ICM’s .XXX Proposal
Rhett Pardon
LISBON, Portugal — ICM Registry again failed to become the .XXX sTLD registry after the Internet’s policy-making board shot down its third attempt to get its proposal approved.

On Friday, the Internet policy-making board put the brakes on a virtual red light district that many in the adult industry lobbied so hard to nix.

The final vote was 9 to 5 in support of a resolution that rejected the ICM application, with one board member, ICANN President and CEO Dr. Paul Twomey, abstaining.

ICANN board members specifically pointed to ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee’s earlier vote on Thursday in its decision, which disapproved the plan.

The proposal would have allowed ICM to assume oversight of Internet content, and that it would be inconsistent with ICANN’s technical mandate, several board members said in a comment period after Friday morning's announcement.

At ICANN’s public forum Thursday, Free Speech Coalition Chairman Jeffrey Douglas said that the plan would have meant there would be an Internet “ghettoization.”

“Having a wall around that community means there will be a restriction of access. Once .XXX is established, they will lose access,” Douglas said. “These are concerns that need to have been addressed, can’t be addressed under the current format,” he said.

ICANN’s 15 board members could have approved it, rejected it outright or rejected it but could have left room for a revised proposal to return. The board also could have deferred a decision for more discussion.

Although the domain name's use by online adult sites would have been voluntary, the proposal touched on issues of access and freedom of speech, with many in the adult-entertainment industry worried that its creation would make government regulation tempting.

ICANN rejected .XXX proposals twice in the last seven years — once in 2004 and last May — but ICM lobbied hard for the registry, discussing the latest version during three closed-door meetings this year.

With an ICANN agreement, Jupiter, Fla.-based ICM would have been required to contract third parties to monitor registrant compliance with content site-labeling requirements. It also would have been required to create a set of “best practices” to protect children online and fund the International Foundation for Online Responsibility, an independent organization ICM has said it would create if approved.

ICM pledged to donate $10 of the proposed annual fee of $60 for a .XXX domain name to child-protection groups and to require users of .XXX to label their content.

ICANN decided to revisit the issue in January nearly eight months after its board shelved ICM’s original plan.

But things started to speed up when ICM claimed in a memo to ICANN that it had gone “well beyond what was reasonably required in reference to its application.”

The memo came on the heels of the board’s concerns, which were raised at the last ICANN meeting, that ICM doesn’t have the strong support of the adult webmaster community.

But ICM set out to demonstrate the support of the sponsored community by stating 76,723 .XXX adult website names have been pre-reserved since June 1, 2006.

ICM also said that 1,217 adult webmasters from more than 70 countries have registered on ICM’s site saying that they support .XXX and wish to register a name.

ICM President Stuart Lawley earlier this year said that his organization was on target.

“We have invested a lot of time and effort into this initiative and are determined to see it through to completion,” Lawley said.

That, however, changed Friday morning, when ICANN decided to shelve the plan for the third time.