Time For A .xxx Internet Domain?

By ERIC J. SINROD

Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005

Let's face it -- adult content, including explicit sexual pornography, runs rampant on the Internet. Internet users can implement specific searches looking for such content, and normally they will find what they are looking for. Other times, people inadvertently will stumble onto such explicit content when searching for something else; indeed, a domain name may give one the impression that the site is suitable for a general audience of all ages, only to turn out that it displays graphic sexual content that is inappropriate for minors or adults not wishing to view such content. So, what to do?

One proposed concept has been a .xxx Internet domain for sexually-oriented Web sites. Just like .com is designed for businesses, .gov for government, and .edu for educational institutions, the idea behind .xxx is that there would be a specific domain name category for adult Web sites with sexual content. In that way, an Internet user easily could judge, based on seeing a .xxx domain name, whether the user truly wanted to visit such a site to view adult content, or if the user wanted to avoid visiting and seeing such content.

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is awaiting recommendations from a particular committee that is evaluating this proposal. ICANN had been proceeding with its evaluation of the proposal, until the Commerce Department sought more time to hear objections. ICANN cannot move forward without Commerce Department approval. At this point, it is not clear when the proposal will be fully and finally evaluated.

The proposal has had its share of critics. Some of them claim that a .xxx domain would provide legitimacy to the pornography industry. Supporters claim that a .xxx domain would make it easier for people to filter out content they do not want.

Time will tell in terms of where this all is heading. Your humble author believes that information is power. Namely, if one knows in advance the type of content displayed on a Web site by way of a domain name designation, that individual then has the power and free will to decide whether or not to view that content. In your author's mind, that is better than stumbling onto content that does meet one's suitability and taste.


Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris (www.duanemorris.com), where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is (www.sinrodlaw.com), and he can be reached at [email protected] To receive a weekly e-mail link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an e-mail with the word Subscribe in the Subject line to [email protected] This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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