Feds still concerned about .XXX domain

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Feds still concerned about .XXX domain

TLD approved despite government opposition.

ICANN has approved the .XXX adult content domain after seven years of debate, despite opposition from its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

The domain name regulator moved to enter into an agreement with ICM Registry following a board meeting in Silicon Valley last Friday.

The latest announcement came after a number of decisions and reversals. ICANN initially approved ICM’s application for the top-level domain (TLD) in 2005, but reversed its decision in March 2007.

ICANN’s reversal was later questioned in an independent review. Last June, ICM announced that it would likely launch .XXX early this year; instead, ICANN spent the next nine months in discussions with the public and GAC.

The Australian Government was among those opposing .XXX. Last October, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told ICANN that there was a “lack of identified public benefit” from the TLD.

A spokesman for the Minister told iTnews today that the Government planned to “continue to work with ICANN to ensure the internet operates in the public benefit”.

Although ICANN claimed that more than 50 percent of the feedback it had received between August and October was in favour of proceeding with the .XXX agreement, Conroy’s spokesman said 89 percent of respondents to a March 2010 consultation opposed .XXX.

“There is significant opposition to .XXX from the general public and key stakeholders,” she said. “Representatives from family groups and the adult industry have strongly opposed .XXX.”

Rather than segregating adult content from the rest of the web, the Australian Government believed that content providers would replicate existing .com sites onto .XXX domains.

Accordingly, there was “no connection” between the new domain and the Government’s plans to introduce a mandatory, ISP-level internet filter aimed at blocking Refused Classification content in Australia.

“.XXX would not assist the community in avoiding adult content, because adult content would not be prohibited on other top level domains, such as .com,” the spokesman said.

“It is likely that adult sites would simply be replicated on .XXX rather than replacing existing sites.”

ICANN acknowledged at last week’s meeting that its actions might not be consistent with GAC advice; however, it believed ICM’s application to have addressed governmental concerns.

“Given the contention in the community regarding the introduction of the .XXX sTLD, any decision on the registry agreement will result in both a positive and negative community impact,” the regulator wrote (pdf).

“On the whole, the Board concludes that ICANN’s adherence to its accountability mechanisms, and completion of the processing of ICM’s 2004 sTLD application will provide a positive community impact.

“Refusing to approve registry agreements with strings that do not have unanimous community support is not an acceptable option as ICANN continues to move toward the introduction of even more new gTLDs.”

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