DNS: March 2010 Archives


March 14, 2010

ICANN is deferring yet again approval of the (useless) .xxx domain:
A global Internet oversight agency on Friday deferred a decision until June on whether to create a ".xxx" Internet suffix as an online red-light district.

The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, initiated a 70-day process of consultations on a domain that could help parents block access to porn sites. Use of the ".xxx" suffix would be voluntary, though, and would not keep such content entirely away from minors.


ICM Registry LLC first proposed the ".xxx" domain in 2000, and ICANN has rejected it three times already since then. But an outside panel last month questioned the board's latest rejection in 2007, prompting the board to reopen the bid.

"There's a lot of complex issues," ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom said, without elaborating.

I wish he would elaborate, since I have no idea what the complex issues are. As far as I know, here's the situation: There are a large number of adult-oriented sites that currently live in .com, .net, etc. Those sites have a high profile and aren't going to suddenly abandon their existing domain names. As long as there are a large number of non-.xxx adult domains, then it's not a very useful criterion for filtering software to use, so I doubt it will be of any use in protecting children from pornography. Since I don't see any indication that adult domains will really be restricted to .xxx then the public good of the proposed new domain seems relatively limited. On the other hand, the harm seems fairly limited as well, especially as the general takeup of new GTLDs seems to be limited at best. (Note that this applies more or less equally to any other proposed new GTLD). I realize that there are people who think that there are important forces pushing in one direction (ICM's desire to sell new domain names) or another (silly worries that .xxx will somehow legitimize pornography), but as far as I can tell it's just a no-op.