Social & Domestic Issues

Will the Department of Commerce OK a XXX Internet Domain?

Unless the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) withholds its approval, the porn industry will have its own domain on the World Wide Web, .xxx. Proponents of the domain say that Web sites such as “Hardcore porn.xxx,” “Rape Porn.xxx,” or “XXXporn.xxx” will make it easier for parents and software filtering companies to protect kids from “adult” material. As if “Hardcore porn.com,” “Rape Porn.com,” or “XXX porn.com,” leave them clueless.

If approved, the porn industry and its allies will be free to self-regulate and operate the domain, which would be entirely voluntary. Internet porn site operators would be free to participate on the .xxx domain and be free to remain on any other Internet domain on which they are registered. Double their pleasure and double their fun while expanding their reach and making it easier for kids to find their porn.

The controversy over the .xxx domain comes in the midst of an announcement Tuesday by the Florida Family Association (FFA): “Two of the largest Internet porn companies in the world operate with alleged addresses in Miami and Orlando, Florida.” FFA’s programmed special software, dubbed “PornCrawler,” “searched the World Wide Web, identified porn sites and summarized which companies operate those sites. PornCrawler analyzed 297 million links and found that 20 companies in the United States account for over 70 percent of the pornography posted on the World Wide Web.”

FFA says “it provided all the details, via certified mail, regarding the two major Internet porn companies in Florida to the U.S. attorneys in Florida’s Middle and Southern Districts” and “asked the U.S. attorneys to investigate these companies and bring appropriate prosecution.”

Allowing an industry that produces and distributes hard-core pornography prosecutable under the federal obscenity laws to voluntarily self-regulate makes as much sense as allowing Murder Incorporated to regulate hit men who voluntarily register with www.wackjobsrus.mob. No need for the killjoy, meddlesome feds to interfere by enforcing federal law.

Five years ago, the Internet Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet’s nonprofit oversight body, rejected a similar proposal. This month, ICANN approved the application submitted by ICM Registry Inc. of Jupiter, Florida, a technology company.

ICM Registry has a two-page “fact sheet” titled, “ICANN Approves .xxx Sponsored Top-Level Domain (TLD) Application,” on its Web site, www.icmregistry.com. According to this, when ICANN approved the application it “directed its staff to enter into negotiations with ICM Registry to develop the commercial and technical terms under which the .xxx sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) would launch.” ICM will do the negotiating and “will provide the registry’s management, supporting infrastructure and back-end functionality.”

The sponsor and “policy-making authority” of the “proposed TLD is the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR), an independent Canadian nonprofit entity. IFFOR will be governed by a board of directors that reflects the various stakeholder groups, and will remain independent of ICM Registry. IFFOR’s board of directors will include “child-safety representatives, members of the free-speech community and adult-entertainment industry leaders.”

ICM’s “fact sheet” reminds readers 12 times that the .xxx domain will be “voluntary” “self-regulation.” The snake oil PR says:

.xxx TLD name registrants will be expected to adhere to a set of best business practices that will include:

  • Safeguarding children from being marketed to or targeted online by adult webmasters;
  • Defending customer privacy;
  • Deploying accurate meta-tagging;
  • Ensuring the clear and accurate disclosure of relevant practices, security of information and transactions, and accountability through the provision of accurate contact information;
  • Protecting intellectual property rights;
  • Combating the use of unlawful malicious codes and technologies, including spoofing and pfishing;
  • Not engaging in fraudulent, anonymous, unsolicited or illegal commercial e-mail advertising their products and services; and
  • Avoiding the use of misleading domain names or domain names intended to attract child pornography consumers.

This list of expectations is an admission of the current egregious practices of the Internet porn industry. Who believes that an industry supposedly concerned about child safety and child pornography would oppose every law Congress enacts, including a regulation directed at pornographic cable television signal bleed, the Child Pornography Protection Act of 1996 (virtual child porn), the Children’s Internet Protection Act (requiring libraries accepting federal subsidies to use technology to block access to illegal porn), the Child Online Protection Act (prohibiting free porn teaser images available to children), the Misleading Domain Names on the Internet Amendment, the Can Spam Act, and the record-keeping regulations required of pornographers to prove that no minors are used in their material, 18 U.S.C. 2257?

I keep forgetting. They’re going to voluntarily self-regulate.

According to media reports, not everyone in the porn industry is behind the .xxx domain because they fear that the voluntary regulations will become mandatory. According to the Associated Press, June 12, 2005, “Robert Corn-Revere, a lawyer hired by ICM to address free-speech issues, said the company has pledged $250,000 for a legal defense fund to keep ‘.xxx’ voluntary.”

Not ones to avoid hypocrisy in their quest to avoid mandatory enforcement of federal laws, the smut industry loves and takes advantage of the federal copyright laws, which protect “intellectual property rights.” Who can’t appreciate how much “intellectual” energy is expended on “gonzo” porn (wall-to-wall sex acts) with “no plot” or “no dialogue to get in your way”? Makes you wonder how moans and groans qualify for a copyright.

Citizens concerned about the proliferation of pornography can contact the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)  4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330, Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6601; Phone: 1-310-823-9358; FAX: 1-310-823-8649; General Email: [email protected]

Or contact the Department of Commerce and urge the DOC to refuse to approve the .xxx TLD. The person to contact at the Office of Public Affairs is Christine Gunderson at (202) 482-4883. E-mails can be sent to the Department of Commerce at: [email protected]. And while you’re at it, call Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to thank him for his commitment to enforce the federal obscenity laws and his  formation of the obscenity task force, and to urge the Department of Justice to investigate the 20 companies identified by our friends at the FFA.


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