Monday, June 28, 2010

The Domain of Porn?

If you've been having trouble finding pornography on the Internet, salvation has come at last. Last Friday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) voted to allow a new top level domain name. Websites will soon be available with the suffix ".xxx," signifying adult content.

The dot-xxx domain name has been a long time in coming. As far back as 2005, there had been discussions at ICANN concerning a domain name for pornographic content, but this option was voted down multiple times, as ICANN members said that they did not want to get into the thorny debate of determining what was or was not pornography. An additional problem came from the rules that new domain names must be sponsored by a group that makes a case for it. The proposed .xxx domain name was sponsored by a group called the ICM Registry, whose motives remain questionable. ("I still question whether, in fact, there is a real sponsored community here," one ICANN board member griped).

Nonetheless, an independent review concluded that the ICM Registry's proposal followed all of ICANN's rules and guidelines for new domain names, and so the .xxx domain name will be available soon. It remains to be seen how popular the new suffix will be (remember when d0t-biz was going to be the new dot-com?).

Proponents of .xxx maintain that this will help keep pornography from seeping into the more civilized swaths of the Internet, avoiding fiascoes like the embarrassing whitehouse.com. (Though, it should be noted that there is no legal compulsion for pornography sites to include the .xxx suffix). But there are arguments against the new domain name from both the friends and foes of pornography. Some maintain that a .xxx suffix will make pornography more readily available to children by collecting it all in one place. Others worry that .xxx names will be easy to filter out, leading to possible censorship. And there is still the question of what, exactly, merits the triple X.

Excited about finding all your porn under one easy-to-remember domain name? Worried that the coming police state will censor all your adult needs? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think!