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War on Error

John E Dunn

The .XXX domain is about $$$ not porn control

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It's not only porn that's out of control but the registration business

Lock up your Internet filters, another useless Internet domain is about to hit the world.

Its advocates call it the Internet's 'Red Light district' but in truth the .XXX domain, finally approved by ICANN last week, is probably more akin to the top shelf of the newsagents nobody wants to be seen reaching towards.

The problem is that the top shelf has looked tame for years and so will the frankly ridiculous .XXX domain when it comes to helping the world corral Internet porn.

Sponsored under due process by ICM Registry (owner British entrepreneur Stuart Lawley), the whole proposal will have a number of nuisance effects none of which will deflect so much as a single smutty image, as if the Internet in its current form could ever allow such a thing happen anyway.

Web filtering providers and admins will have to add the .XXX domain to block lists secure in the despairing knowledge that this action, while technically necessary, will make no difference to the effectiveness of filtering porn. All the sites (so-called legit porn purveyors) likely to consider a .XXX domain registration will already be blocked through other domains, for instance,  playboy.com.
 
The vast swathe of porn, some of it used to generate click-through revenue or distribute malware will continue on its steady course. Much of this isn't hosted in the US, the country that is home to most of the domain holders that might conceivably be interested in buying a .XXX. The majority of porn companies outside the US don't have much incentive to buy easy-to-block domains, put it that way.

ICM Registry will make a packet, according to one source easily in the ball park of $30 million a year. That's a good business as are all new top-level domains come to think of it. If politicians get hold of the wrong end of this .XXX stick they might even feather the nest by mandating that all US porn companies use the domain.

Even innocent articles such as this might find themselves being filtered, inadvertently, by spam and content filters just for discussing it.

Does every mobile site use .MOBI? Remember the utterly useless .EU domain the registrars all wanted a few years back? Now there's another domain to worry about your company being associated with. Unilever.XXX, BBC.XXX or perhaps Microsoft.XXX anyone? You can see how much money can be made from protective domain registrations.

This is what lies at the heart of this piece of clever registration politics. More domains, however useless, equals more money.

All this after ICANN having previously backed off voting this through in a humming and hawing exercise that goes back a decade at least. 

ICANN might have felt the need to approve the .XXX debacle but it will change nothing while adding a layer of cost the world could do without. 


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