Congressman Talks Up .Porn TLD

Matt O'Conner
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., is suggesting an old idea with a new twist: restricting adult websites to one area of the Internet under a common suffix.

At the recent Summit on Pornography: Obscenity Enforcement, Corporate Participation and Violence Against Women and Children, Pence proposed that all sites containing sexually explicit material be segregated to a .porn Top Level Domain.

Speaking to an audience made up of members from groups such as Concerned Women for America, Citizens for Community Values, Focus on Family, the American Decency Association and Morality in Media, Pence blasted the Supreme Court for being “more enamored with protecting obscene speech than with protecting everyday citizens.”

“We’ve got to be creative within constitutional protections” to protect children from obscene material online, he said.

Pence offered no specifics as to whether he plans to sponsor legislation on the issue, and his office had not returned a call from XBiz at the time of publication. But he did receive support from other lawmakers at the event.

Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla., who gained notoriety for her role in the 2000 presidential election recount, called adult webmasters “monsters that prey upon our children.”

Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Penn., told the crowd that search engines and peer-to-peer networks routinely spit out links to adult sites even for the most innocent of search terms.

“We simply do not have the manpower and technology to enforce the laws that we have on the books,” Pitts said, adding that an adults-only TLD would eliminate such confusion.

In 2003, Pence sponsored the Truth in Domain Names Act, which made it illegal to “typo squat,” or use misleading domain names that might lead minors to adult sites.

Webmaster John Zuccarini was the first person prosecuted under the law when authorities charges he had registered various domain names that consisted of misspellings of legitimate domain names that were popular with children such as Teltubbies.com, Bobthebiulder.com and www.disneyland.com. Upon typing the wrong URLs, surfers were directed to adult site Hanky Panky College.

Zuccarini was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.