After years of rejecting its applications, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) decided to give the adult entertainment industry the .xxx top-level domain, a move that results in the establishment of a virtual red-light district on the Web. This week, the sale began.
Today, most web site names end in .com, .net, .org, .gov, or .edu. The implication of this proposed change is that an adult content / pornographic web site will have the option of using the .xxx domain name. At first glance, this would seem to make it easier for parents or parental controls software vendors to monitor and protect children and teens from objectionable sites.
In reality, this change would potentially make it very easy for a curious child to quickly get into trouble. I envision children getting immediate access to X-rated materials by innocently typing in almost any word with a .xxx name. Exposure to such images is not quickly forgotten or erased from a young memory.
Knowing how well-funded corrupt businesses operate, I expect pornographers to co-locate their content on existing .comdomains and also on the new .xxx domain, thus increasing the prevalence of pornography sites. Pornographers won’t likely voluntary give up their successful .com addresses to locate solely on the .xxx domain. As a result, pornography content will be more pervasive.
As the owner of a few reputable web sites, I have considered what will happen when .xxx domains go on sale and reputablecompanies are a bit slow to purchase their .xxx domain name to simply protect them. Our company will jump to buy www.netnanny.xxx to avoid the trouble a pornographer can wreak if they do any URL spoofing based on our brand name.
The other overriding challenge is that there is no real legal regulation, in practice. Indeed, Internet pornography is hardcore obscenity and it is illegal. But it is so ubiquitous, it is not usually prosecuted.
It’s not likely that Congress would be able to pass a law requiring pornographers to conform to the .xxx domain. And even if passed, such as law would be relatively unenforced in federal court, if the past is an indicator of the future. Historically, efforts by Congress to regulate smut on the Internet have not been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In short, as .xxx domains go on sale, we will see an increase in the pervasiveness of pornography and its accessibility. Ironically, the Internet is used for so many good things too.