Once again, US blocks porno domain
By TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
March 28, 2006 - 11:12AM
The United States Government has blocked a plan to create a red-light district in cyberspace.
Icann, the worldwide body that manages the internet, had been expected to approve website addresses ending in ".xxx" at an international meeting under way in Wellington, but it is understood it will not now vote on the proposal.
Canadian firm ICM Registry has spent five years and $US2.5 million ($NZ4.1 million) campaigning for the right to manage.xxx web addresses, for which it would charge $US60 each.
Chairman Stuart Lawley said he was disappointed, but it was not realistic to expect a decision on.xxx in Wellington.
The US Commerce Department - which created Icann as an independent body to take over its management of the domain name system - raised concerns about proposed mechanisms for managing .xxx websites. But Mr Lawley said he believed it was a "deliberate delaying tactic".
Mr Lawley said this was the third time the US Government had delayed .xxx addresses, and blamed the influence of "religious conservatives in the US that appear to have access to the powers that be".
He said ICM Registry would keep up the battle and hoped Icann would go on to approve.xxx web addresses.
"The last-minute intervention - again - of the US Department of Commerce is a worrisome trend for Icann," he said.
"I think the international community is looking to Icann to show its independence of the US.
"The US last year tried to convince the rest of the world they didn't interfere with Icann and internet policies and this kind of interference calls that into question."
Mr Lawley estimates there are four million adult websites, owned by 100,000 webmasters.
ICM Registry is not directly involved in the adult Internet industry, but has made no bones that it wants to make money selling .xxx addresses.
The company has won some support for its argument that setting up the red-light zone in cyberspace would make it easier to filter out adult websites so they could not be seen accidentally or by children.
Liz Butterfield, executive director of New Zealand's nonprofit Internet Safety Group, said .xxx was potentially positive and saw no reason why such addresses should not be allowed.
But she said she doubted the addressing system would stop many adult website owners using other Internet addresses, such as.com.
"I think you have got to be realistic about what it would achieve."
Mr Lawley said .xxx would provide adult internet users with some assurance they could view pornography at websites run by "responsible adult entertainment providers" without encountering spyware and computer viruses.
Websites would be shut down if they did not adhere to these rules.
The Dominion Post, New Zealand