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Niue reps gets litigious over porn hosting claim

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The operators of the .nu TLD have taken mighty exception to a recent report by Secure Computing which claimed that the tiny sun-kissed island of Niue was the repository for three million pages of Web depravity.

.NU Domain Ltd - the US-based .nu custodian - is to take legal action against Secure for "making false claims that .NU Domain is hosting millions of pages of pornographic material". Furthermore, it will get out the big stick "against anyone who republishes this inaccurate and defamatory study".

After we first reported on Niue's alleged contribution to the dissemination of filth, we received several letters noting that there is a difference between a website carrying the .nu TLD and it actually being hosted in Niue itself. Fair enough. .NU Domain Ltd, however, is out to make it abundantly clear that not only does it not host Net naughtiness, but that it won't tolerate porn websites under the .nu TLD wherever they're hosted.

.NU Domain Ltd prez J. William Semich lays it on the line thus: "There are no such pornographic Web pages being hosted in Niue or by the .nu top level domain, nor were there ever any such Web pages." He continues: "There are approximately 100,000 .nu domain names currently active on the Internet Worldwide. Since first launching registration services for .nu domain names on the Internet in 1997, .NU Domain Ltd has developed one of the most stringent sets of policies and terms of use of any domain name in the world. Since then, we have deactivitated, revoked or removed about 6,000 names for violating our policies or US laws, including aggressive policies against pornography."

These policies include a financial disincentive to to plant the flag of filth on Niue's shores: "Pornography Web site operators prefer to use the lowest cost domain names for their Web pages," says Semich. "Since they register many domain names - often thousands - for the same pornographic Web site. .NU Domain Ltd requires a two-year registration period to register a .nu domain name, for a total cost of $60 US or 60 Euro. Registrars for .com domain names charge as little as $8 US and only require a one-year registration."

Sadly, neither this fiscal firewall nor "aggressive policies against pornography" appear to have stopped smutmongers peddling their wares from .nu. Indeed, a quick Google search reveals plenty of .nu sites offering a range of delights for the discerning punter. And in case you might be thinking that these websites might be hiding behind innocent-sounding urls - and thereby safe from the rapt attention of anyone on the look-out for foaming-at-the, er, -mouth filth - we reckon that www.interracialporno.nu pretty well does what it says on the tin.

But are there really three million porn pages lurking behind a .nu TLD? Secure Computing's methodology - which also resulted in the Germans being branded the world leader in porn hosting, excluding the US - is given short shrift by Semich: "Rather than being a geographic study of Internet pornography, the Secure Computing report is merely a summation of the total number of Web page URLs the company has listed in its Web site access control filter. The more Web pages it can list in its filter the more protection it can claim to be providing, so in an apparent attempt boost the count, Secure Computing has included thousands of inactive and expired domain names, and the millions of Web pages associated with them, in its SmartFilter(R) v4 Control List. The number of pornographic Web pages it has listed as being associated with the .nu domain name is wildly inflated as a result."

Strong stuff. We await Secure Computing's reply with interest. ®

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