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US concerns quash approval hopes

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Plans to approve the creation of a controversial .xxx top-level domain (TLD) at an ongoing meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in New Zealand have been dashed, according to reports.

United Press International says the US Commerce Department has raised objections to the domain, expressing concerns about the mechanisms for running the domain put forward by the domain’s proposed operator, ICM Registry. The Dominion Post first reported the story.

ICANN first considered and refused an application for the .xxx suffix five years ago. But in 2004 a non-profit entity called the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR) submitted another application for the domain.

The group intends the .xxx domain, which would be run by ICM Registry, to cater for responsible adult-orientated websites. It hopes the domain will help to protect children from exposure to internet porn, while also having a positive impact on adult entertainment through voluntary efforts of the industry.

ICANN gave preliminary approval for the adults-only label in June 2005, but immediately faced a storm of criticism. Members of ICANN's Government Advisory Committee advised the ICANN Board by letter that there was a "strong sense of discomfort" about the proposed domain, and that some governments were intending to contact ICANN directly about their concerns.

Final approval was expected in August, but it has not been forthcoming. In December, ICANN announced that it had indefinitely delayed a decision on the domain. But according to reports, supporters of the domain had hoped that the issue would be discussed at the ongoing ICANN meeting in Wellington.

Separately, US Democratic Senators Mark Pryor and Max Baucus introduced legislation earlier this month to require websites with adult content to have a .xxx domain that only adults can access.

The legislation, the Cyber Safety for Kids Act, would require the Secretary of Commerce to negotiate with ICANN to develop a special domain name for websites containing adult content.

Under the proposed Act, companies that fail to register with the new domain within six months would be subject to civil penalties.

"By corralling pornography in its own domain, our bill provides parents with the ability to create a 'do not enter zone' for their kids," said Pryor at the time.

See: The UPI report (hosted by Monsters and Critics)

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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