Top-level Domain Name Suggested for Porn

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DUSSELDORF, GERMANY -- Numerous groups, including several outspoken U.S. politicians, have been demanding for some time a separate Internet domain for pornography in a move to prevent sexually explicit content from landing on the screens of young Net users.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) took a big step this week to meet that demand by approving a plan for pornographic Web sites to use new addresses that end with ".xxx."

ICANN, the nonprofit organization that oversees technical matters related to the Internet, said it will begin negotiations with ICM Registry to resolve commercial and technical issues associated with operating the .xxx TLD (Top Level Domain.

The decision in favor of establishing a virtual red-light district for providers of pornographic content and their customers represents a U-turn for ICANN, which rejected ICM's first application for the .xxx TLD in November 2000. Reasons for the objection are published in a document found here on ICANN's Web site.

ICANN representatives in Marina del Rey, California, were not immediately available for comment.

Sites Easier to Block

ICM argues that .xxx Web addresses will shield children from pornographic content more effectively by allowing families and others using filtering software to block access to sites ending with this suffix.

The International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFOR) will sponsor .xxx., according to ICM Registry. The foundation is a Canadian nonprofit entity that will serve as the policy-making authority for the .xxx TLD. It is--and will remain--totally independent from ICM Registry, which is primarily funded by registration activities, the Internet registry company said.

The non-profit foundation will promote online child safety and campaign against child pornography. "This foundation will provide assistance through various online support organizations and the sponsoring of technology tools and education programs for parents," ICM Registry states on its Web site. "The online adult entertainment industry wants to create an identifiable space with which its members can elect to associate themselves and wherein they can responsibly self-organize and create guidelines to promote credible self-regulation."

ICM Registry, which is wholly owned by Chestermere Investments, will operate the registry. The company, according to its Web site, "is a financially stable and completely independent entity with no affiliation, current or historic, with the adult-entertainment industry."

In 2000, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, joined several other U.S. politicians demanding ICANN to approve the .xxx TLD. In a paper, Lieberman wrote: "I think (the .xxx TLD) has a lot of merit, for rather than constricting the Net's open architecture, it would capitalize on it to effectively shield children from pornography, and it would do so without encroaching on the rights of adults to have access to protected speech."

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