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British porn domain mastermind fights US Government

.xxx blocked by US Gov, Lawley claims

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The British man behind the proposed .xxx internet domain believes the US Government has intervened to thwart his plans. Stuart Lawley is fighting a court battle to retrieve the documents he says would prove his case.

Lawley made dotcom millions with web design and hosting firm Oneview.net which was floated then sold before the first internet crash, and has bank rolled the seven-year proposal to have a top level domain for pornography.

His firm ICM Registry was awarded the right to operate the domain but contractual wrangling is more about the conservative Bush administration's connections to the religious right than they are about the contract itself, Lawley told technology podcast OUT-LAW Radio.

"We were hoping to sign our contract which was a standard contract that most other registries have, until the United States Government intervened," said Lawley, who lives in Florida. "They had been lobbied very heavily by the Christian conservative groups here in the United States."

Lawley says that the US Department of Commerce's view of the proposal changed, which filtered down to ICANN. He said that he obtained some government documents under freedom of information legislation outlining parts of his case but that crucial elements were redacted, which means they were blanked out.

"We received documentation that showed clearly what had gone on. Some of the documents were sent in redacted form and we have litigation in the District of Columbia courts against the United States Department of Commerce and the United States Department of State to try and force them to turn over these documents that we allege show the level of interference in the ICANN process," said Lawley.

"The documents show that up to a certain date the Department of Commerce understood our application and were mildly approving of it," said Lawley. "After several high level meetings between Christian conservative leaders and administration and Department of Commerce officials the tone very much changed overnight into 'how do we stop this' and 'how do we kill it'. That's the nature of the documents we are trying to get more detail on."

Lawley says that the .xxx domain is a good idea because it introduces some self-regulation into a $5bn industry that does not currently police itself. His proposal mandates that anyone registering a .xxx domain must tag their content so that it is labelled as pornographic or adult material.

Even if the .xxx site merely points to a .com or .net domain, the content to which it ultimately points must be tagged, he said. He also said that $10 of the $60 annual registration fee will go to a foundation set up by his company to fund child protection online.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

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

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