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Pr0n domain approved by ICANN

.XXX gets thumbs up. Again

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The ICANN approved the porn domain. Again.

On Friday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that it had entered an agreement with ICM Registry that allows the company to run .XXX as a top-level domain.

"ICANN’s decision to give .XXX final approval is a landmark moment for the internet," reads a canned statement from ICM CEO Stuart Lawley. "For the first time there will be a clearly defined web address for adult entertainment, out of the reach of minors and as free as possible from fraud or malicious computer viruses.

“We believe consumers will be more prepared to make purchases on .XXX sites, safe in the knowledge their payments will be secure. Tens of thousands of adult entertainment website owners recognize the business benefits of .XXX and have already applied to pre-reserve over 200,000 .XXX domains.”

.XXX is designated as a sponsored top-level domain, so it will only be available to the adult-entertainment industry, and all applications must be approved by the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR).

The top-level porn domain was first proposed by ICM Registry in 2000. In 2005, ICANN - the net's overseeing body - approved the proposal. But after opposition from the US and various other governments, the organization ended up rejecting the thing – on three separate occasions. The last rejection came in 2007, but in early 2010, an independent panel of judges ruled that ICANN was out of line. The 2007 rejection, the panel said, was "not consistent with the application of neutral, objective, and fair documented policy."

The ICANN board was not obliged to obey the panel decision. But it has.

The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) – a group representing the adult entertainment industry – has long opposed the .XXX domain. Adult entertainment industry representatives protested the domain on Thursday outside the San Francisco hotel where ICANN was set to vote on .XXX at its Silicon Valley meeting.

“Of course we are disappointed but we are not surprised by the ICANN Board’s decision. As voiced in concerns by speakers at this very conference, the ICANN Board has dangerously undervalued the input from governments worldwide,” FSC executive director Diane Duke said in a statement after Friday's vote.

“Worse, they have disregarded the overwhelming outpouring of opposition from the adult entertainment industry – the supposed sponsorship community – dismissing the interests of free speech on the Internet.”

If ICANN had not approved the domain, it's almost certain that someone else would have gone after the domain when ICANN begins accepting applications for the new generic top-level domains, which will likely happen later this year. This would probably have meant a lawsuit from ICM. But as it stands, ICANN may see a lawsuit from the Free Speech Coalition. ®

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