ICM Registry Opposes U.K. Plan to Adopt Online Adult Opt-in Rules

LONDON — ICM Registry, the operator of .XXX, on Tuesday said that it opposes the U.K.'s plan to adopt opt-in rules to receive online adult content in the country.

The plan "violates the basic principles that information online should be widely available and that individuals —not governments or service providers — should decide what they want to see," ICM Registry's Stuart Lawley said in a statement. "The default position should favor free expression, and people should not have to 'ask permission' to have access to the entire Internet."

Prime Minister David Cameron is set to announce the new rules today.

Subscribers to Internet service providers BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin who don't opt in won't be able to access porn sites under Cameron's plans.

Lawley, ICM Registry's CEO, went on to say that the agreement with ISPs can hardly be called “voluntary,” since it was announced under threat of direct governmental regulation. 

"And it gives the government and the ISPs too much power to decide in advance, and in a broad-brush way, which websites will be blocked in advance," Lawley said. "ICM Registry fully supports the principle of empowering individuals and families to decide what to read or view online, and designed the .xxx domain to assist with such personal decision-making. 

"But blocking all adult-oriented sites in advance is overkill, since two-thirds of households have no children residing in them, and it is inconsistent with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights."

Article 10 provides the right to freedom of expression, subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society."

Cameron also is expected to announce the creation of a new website called Parentport, where parents can complain about TV programs, advertisements or products that they feel is inappropriate for children.

Parentport will be operated by communications regulatory agency Ofcom, which has imposed fines in the past few years for streaming, unencrypted erotic online, cable and satellite content.

Other measures are expected to include restrictions on billboards of erotic models.

Cameron is to announce the rules as a means to crack down on the sexualization of children.