Commerce Department Not Likely to Nix .XXX

Matt O'Conner
WASHINGTON — Amid rampant coverage of ICANN’s decision to proceed with approval of a .XXX sponsored top-level domain, many news organizations have hinted that there is a chance the U.S. Commerce Department could step in to block the controversial domain.

But a Commerce representative told XBiz that simply is not the case.

Citing comments made by former ICANN board member Karl Auerbach, a vocal critic of both ICANN and the .XXX initiative, the Associated Press published a story that led many, including other news outlets that picked up the story, to believe Commerce had final say on approval of the domain.

A number of conservative push groups, including Concerned Women for America, issued calls to arms for members to place pressure on Commerce to refuse approval.

But Commerce neither passes judgment on the merits of any TLD nor has the authority to stop ICANN from approving a TLD, according to the official. Rather, the department is responsible only for technical aspects of implementation, including adding .XXX to root servers.

ICANN was created in 1998 to privatize the domain-name system under an agreement with Commerce.

Since then, the government has maintained a long-standing policy of not opposing or getting involved with in ICANN’s processes, a policy which frequently comes under heavy criticism from those who disagree with the organization’s decisions.

However, the official pointed out, anyone hoping to keep .XXX from becoming a reality can contact ICANN or their local congressional representatives.