IFFOR's Joan Irvine Featured in Irish Times

DUBLIN — IFFOR (the International Foundation For Online Responsibility) executive director Joan Irvine is the featured story in the mainstream Irish Times today.

In addition to describing her as outgoing, charming and an immaculately dressed business professional, the paper called the former ASACP (Adult Sites Advocating Child Protection) CEO “the acceptable face of the porn industry.”

Seated squarely in the center of the ICM Registry’s up-and-running but still controversial .XXX efforts, Irvine was in Ireland this week to work on a series of IFFOR policies.

The Times said, “Politicking around the domain indicates that some clearly feel skeptical of the adult industry’s commitment to self-regulation, monitoring and child protection. However Irvine — a recognized advocate for child protection who worked to develop labeling technologies for adult websites, and who has received a commendation award from the U.S. Congress — says any serious adult business wants to focus on adult customers and keep children well away."

Explaining how the new ICANN approved .XXX TLD works and that IFFOR was created to administer policy to help smooth over concerns from high costs for domains and the worry over “legitimization” of adult by anti-porn groups, to verifying real adult companies who apply, the article gave Irvine a spotlight to express her views.

“There are benefits to adult entertainment companies to buy a .XXX and there will be returns on investment,” Irvine said. “Along with having McAfee protecting the site and having child protections built into the domain, ICM Registry will be developing a .XXX portal to help people find sites.

“A lot of it is so people can feel more comfortable. A lot of people were getting scared to go to adult sites, afraid there’d be child pornography and viruses.”

Irvine told the Times that the industry is frustrated over how the public associates adult entertainment with child porn and noted that studies show about 90 percent of the material originates from sources such as organized crime. “Everyone assumes it’s the [adult] industry, but it’s not. The industry has every reason to want to self-regulate, support child protection and reinforce its distance from illegal activity,” Irvine said.

Stressing that using .XXX  “is going to be an option, not mandatory” for adult sites. Irvine noted that the ICM Registry would take action if an individual country decided to make using the domain mandatory.

Recalling her entrée into the adult industry, Irvine said she found the ASACP role on online recruitment site Monster.com and had no qualms when asked if she was concerned about making the move.

“No. I thought about it, yes, but then I decided, I don’t care, it’s a child protection role and I also saw that all the skill sets I had were a good fit. When I came on board in 2002, it was very grassroots and volunteer-based. We were able to build out a very vibrant child-protection agency and develop policies. People did ask ‘how could you be going into this industry?’ Well, it is an industry, and I really like working for associations,” Irvine said.

Commenting on her new IFFOR role, Irvine said she feels she’s a good choice and excited about the opportunities IFFOR presents that include research grants, tools for web users, educational programs for parents, children’s charities and “advocacy efforts and lobbying in different regions.”

“Stuart [Lawley, ICM founder and CEO] felt it was very important that someone who was involved in the industry was brought in.”

Irvine said she has seen the online adult entertainment industry “grow up and go from a wild west to needing to have structure,” including accountants, legal advice and technical and business experts, noting that the dotcom crash a decade ago sent many unemployed tech types into adult.

“What a dotcom needs, the adult industry needs. Also, it is a maturing industry. People who had built up companies are now wanting to cash out. There are a lot of mergers and acquisitions. It is also facing a lot of the same problems as all media organizations: piracy and lots of free content.”

Irvine also told the Times that she is interested in how .XXX will challenge the “U.S.-centric” nature of the industry. “Now, they’re talking to the European industry. You find people are doing business partnerships, affiliate programs, site translation — all those issues other industries have had. Plus you have all the different regional laws.”

Her new challenge is to provide self-regulation in a usable format for everybody and to help mold an organization and industry, Irvine noted.