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Smut baron buy-up of Vatican.xxx rumour exploded

Priestly pr0n purveyance blocked by registry, won't be sold

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The domain name vatican.xxx was not "registered by a mystery buyer" as has been widely reported this week.

The Vatican issued a statement yesterday claiming the prurient web address was in the hands of somebody else, leading to speculation that it could turn into a porn site.

"This domain is not available because it has been acquired by someone else, but not the Vatican," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Vatican radio, according to Reuters.

The priest's statement was apparently enough for the story to be reported at face value by outlets including The Telegraph and TechCrunch.

However, a simple Whois lookup reveals that vatican.xxx has been "reserved" – essentially blocked from registration – by .xxx registry manager ICM Registry since early September, before .xxx domains became available.

ICM was not immediately available to comment, but its published policies reveal a few reasons the Vatican address may have been reserved.

First, country names were banned from .xxx from the outset, and the Vatican is (technically) a country.

Second, ICM offered international governments the opportunity to block culturally or religiously significant names for free. It also unilaterally reserved many such names it thought might get it into trouble (such as various spellings of muhammad.xxx).

Third, ICM has a strict policy prohibiting the use of a .xxx domain name to suggest the presence of child abuse material.

For whichever reason it was blocked, vatican.xxx is never going to see the light of day as a porn site. ®

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