Internet regulators approve XXX web domain for porn industry

After a decade-long process, the Internet’s regulator has approved a top-level domain (dot-XXX), a move that will serve to both wall off pornography from the rest of the web and raise further controversy.

Once it becomes official, porn sites will be able to end with the characters .xxx rather than .com. The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) decided to grant the domain proposal for the porn industry.

The body made the decision after studying whether the XXX domain name could meet the criteria for a sponsorship domain, which is a domain such as dot-aero that has a specific community backing it. Groups that advocated the change hailed the decision, including the ICM Registry, which made the proposal but says it has no affiliation with the porn business.

“It’s been a long time coming,” ICM Chairman Stuart Lawley said in a statement. “The decision should soon bring to fruition our effort to create a specific Web address for online adult entertainment, and comes on the heels of an independent review that declared that ICANN’s previous decision to deny dot-xxx was wrong.”

ICANN will conduct a due-diligence study of ICM’s business plan for the domain, and ICANN’s board will review it. The process could take time, so dot-XXX sites will not start appearing immediately. ICANN had previously rejected proposals for the dot-XXX domain in decisions dating back to 2000. Advocates of the dot-XXX domain say it will make it easier to wall off porn sites from young viewers, but those who oppose it said the domain would legitimize the porn industry. Here’s a chronology of the process (PDF).

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