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Another Look At Dot XXX

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Apr 18, 2004 8:00 AM PDT    Text size: 

Cyberspace – As the battle over indecency heats up across America, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) handing out record fines to broadcast organizations, many on Capitol Hill are asking what can be done to clean up the Internet – and wondering if the FCC could or should play a role in it.

Attempting to take a proactive stance towards mitigating some of the lawmaker's election year concerns, proponents of the "dot XXX" Top Level Domain (TLD) are continuing their efforts to obtain clearance from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to officially adopt their proposed domain name extension.

One of the most vocal advocates in this effort is the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR), a non-profit organization working to formulate the policy governing the proposed .XXX TLD. According to the IFFOR Website, "The .XXX TLD is intended to primarily serve the needs of the global responsible online adult-entertainment community [which is] primarily defined as those individuals, businesses, and entities that provide sexually-oriented information, services, or products intended for consenting adults."

Supporting a vision of a beneficial, self-identifying system rather than a basis for a legislatively regulatory environment, IFFOR hopes that adoption of the .XXX TLD will "promote the development of responsible business practices and conduct within the online adult-entertainment community... protect the privacy and security of consenting adult consumers of online adult-entertainment goods and services...and promote the development of business practices to safeguard children online and combat child pornography" – among other worthy and ambitious goals.

IFFOR is not alone in its attempt to make dot XXX a reality however. ICM Registry hopes to become the actual operator of the .XXX registry. According to ICM, "The .XXX top-level domain will create a clearly identifiable area of the Internet that will both help protect children and families, as well as enable responsible adult-entertainment website operators to self-organize and self-regulate on a voluntary basis."

While current proposals for an official .XXX TLD include self-regulatory "best practices" such as "Safeguarding children from being marketed or targeted online, defending customer privacy, promoting accurate meta-tagging, ensuring clear and accurate disclosures, security of transactions and contact information, protecting intellectual property rights, combating the use of unlawful malicious codes and technologies (like spoofing), opposing fraudulent, anonymous and unsolicited bulk SPAM advertising of pornography, and blocking domain names intended to attract child pornography consumers," opponents of the proposed TLD fear the creation of a virtual "Red Light District" – and the increased ease of isolation and legislative regulation that such a TLD could enable.

Another concern is over the transfer of existing adult brands to the new TLD and the negative impact that cyber-squatters as well as legitimate, competing brands, could have on the process, as well as whether or not migration would be somehow "mandatory."

As ICANN considers the inclusion of the .XXX TLD into a future round of new TLDs, the voices on both sides of the debate will continue to be heard, and only time will tell which side will finally prevail.

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