Bush Calls for Additional Consideration on .XXX

Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON – Amid doubts, concerns and a call for further review on the ramifications of the sponsored top-level domain .XXX, the Commerce Department has asked for a hold on the contract with ICM Registry, the registrar for the controversial adults-only domain name, News.com reports.

In response to thousands of emails expressing concern over .XXX, Commerce’s Assistant Secretary Michael Gallagher has asked that the .XXX domain receive “further scrutiny.”

The adults-only domain was slated for approval on Tuesday.

"The volume of correspondence opposed to the creation of a .XXX [domain] is unprecedented," Gallagher told News.com. "Given the extent of the negative reaction, I request that the board [provide] adequate additional time for these concerns to be voiced and addressed before any additional action takes place."

The sudden decision highlights ICANN’s flip-flop on deciding that the .XXX was ready for approval, contrary to its rejection of the application in 2003.

ICM Registry Chairman Stuart Lawley told XBiz that the company fully supports the decision to delay approval.

"ICM Registry does not want the .xxx sTLD to be used to undermine the integrity of the ICANN process, and we have therefore asked the ICANN Board to defer final consideration of the registry agreement for a month," Lawley said.

During that month, Lawley said, ICM Registry will with members of ICANN's Government Advisory Council and the U.S. Department of Commerce to discuss the concerns they are hearing and to provide information on the ways in which ICM Registry thinks creation of a voluntary sTLD for responsible providers of adult online entertainment can help to make the Internet safer.

ICANN approved .XXX in June, but was then hit by an immediate backlash from both members of the adult community who felt Florida-based ICM had acted unfairly on their behalves as well as numerous family and religious advocacy groups that felt the domain would only further the proliferation of online adult content over the web.

Many adult business owners felt that .XXX could possible lead to a government-imposed segregation of online pornographers that would enable further restrictions by credit card companies and any other groups opposed to online adult content.

ICM Registry has repeatedly denied that perception. Lawley said his company is committed to protecting adult businesses from any attempts at mandatory migration.

"ICM Registry has taken extraordinary measures to ensure the voluntary nature of the .xxx domain," Lawley told XBiz. "The instantly recognizable label of .XXX permits responsible members of the adult online community to engage in self- regulation."

In addition to acting as the official registry for the proposed domain, ICM registry has appointed a second, nonprofit organization called the International Foundation for Online Responsibility to handle setting the rules and policies for .XXX

The controversial domain name also has caught the attention of ICANN's government advisory group, which issued a letter asking the ICANN board to "allow time for additional governmental and public policy concerns to be expressed before reaching a final decision."

Mohd Sharil Tarmizi wrote to the ICANN board of directors charging that ICANN was not responsive enough to the needs of developing countries.

"For those that are still wondering what triple-X means, let's be specific, Mr. Chairman,” Tarmizi wrote. “They are talking about pornography. These are things that go very deep in our values in many of our countries. In my country, Brazil, we are very worried about this kind of decision-making process where they simply decide upon creating such new top-level generic domain names."

Gallagher was appointed to the post by President George W. Bush on July 1, 2004, after serving as acting assistant secretary since August 2003.