March 18, 2011

ICANN Approves .XXX -- Boycott Urged -- ICM Keeps Blowing Smoke

Greetings. As expected, ICANN has approved the ".XXX" gTLD (Generic Top-Level Domain) -- or using my preferred notation in these postings to help avoid filter blocking: "dot-ex-ex-ex" ...

Back in 2005, in Open Letter: Why "Dot-Ex-Ex-Ex" is for Chumps, I urged the adult entertainment industry not to play along with any .xxx TLD should it come to pass.

It appears that they agree with me. The Free Speech Coalition, which represents the adult entertainment industry, strongly opposes the creation of this TLD, and is now recommending a boycott. They feel (quite accurately, indeed) that this TLD will be widely blocked, and will trigger efforts to force their members to give up all other Internet addresses and be present only in this new "red light district" TLD, creating a terrible precedent for Internet censorship and the crushing of free speech more generally.

Stuart Lawley, the man who has cornered ICANN into this terrible decision, and who stands to strike it rich by operating .xxx and associated civil liberties eviscerating services, is continuing to spout the same misleading statements as always.

Last July, in ICM Registry and Deceptive Dot-Ex-Ex-Ex Polls, I noted how his ICM Registry quoted deceptive polls to claim support for .xxx, by seeming to suggest that all adult services would be restricted only to this TLD, and would no longer have a presence elsewhere in other TLDs -- a completely false assertion today, and unlikely to occur in the U.S. without extremely drawn out and problematic court battles -- and perhaps not even then.

He's still at it, now saying that, "For the first time there will be a clearly defined web address for adult entertainment, out of the reach of minors ..." -- again seeming to imply that .xxx will somehow have exclusive control over adult entertainment sites -- and that minors will magically be blocked from accessing .xxx sites as well. Since Lawley has previously crowed about his ability to collect protective registrations for .xxx (from firms who otherwise wouldn't want to have anything to do with it or him), his "200K pre-reservations" claim can be easily recognized as a pure form of hypocrisy in action.

It's worth mentioning that even folks who should know better have apparently been taken in by Lawley's spiel -- or are acting that way. Gawker's article on this issue today ended with: "For the common Internet user, it should make randomly typing in random websites that less exciting, knowing you'll never be startled to learn that an innocuous URL leads to a foot fetish website." -- reinforcing the utterly false meme that porn sites would no longer be present in .COM and other conventional TLDs.

Looking at the details of ICANN's discussions about .xxx and their plans to finalize the process for a vast new expansion (by June) of additional gTLDs to further enrich the domain-industrial complex, it seems clear that they're very much tired out. The question of what's really right or wrong -- what's best for the Internet as a whole and for most users of the Net -- isn't in the forefront of their deliberations.

Now it's very much a matter of extricating themselves from the quicksand they created themselves in recent years via a series of 180-degree turns regarding process, governance, and TLDs in particular. They just want to be done with it all. They just want out.

When it comes to gTLD expansion in general, and to .xxx in particular, I hope that the Internet community, and domestic governments around the world, will take a firm stance not to allow ICANN's views to dictate what's best for the global Internet -- an Internet that is supposed to be for everyone -- not just the well-heeled masters of the domain money machine.

In the long run, I hope that projects such a IDONS - Internet Distributed Open Name System -- or some other new approach -- can make a positive difference and obsolete the TLD madness entirely.

In the meantime, some shorter term approaches to deal with this situation -- that individuals, firms, and other organizations can implement right now without needing approval from ICANN -- appear to be called for. More on that soon.


Update (March 18, 2011 22:30 PM): ICANN Chairman touts .XXX making porn more accessible and easier to filter

Posted by Lauren at March 18, 2011 03:19 PM | Permalink
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