Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Digital Red Light District

On Friday ICANN, the California-based nonprofit agency that controls domain names announced that it will consider adding .xxx to the list of available suffixes a company can choose when setting up an online domain.

The ideas of the .xxx has been bandied about for some time now. Pornographers were among the first ones over the top when it came to online content. Porn's proliferation on the web is widespread and deeply entrenched. Having porn sites demarcated by the .xxx suffix, as opposed to .com, would make it much easier to filter them out. This is obviously good news for parents who wish to prevent their children from viewing such content.

This decision comes as a victory for ICM Registry LLC, a company that has applied and been rejected three times since 2000 for the rights to register and manage the .xxx domain.

However not everyone is crazy about the idea. Christian groups have long opposed and previously blocked attempts to establish a XXX domain name, fearing it would offer too much legitimacy to porn. Even members of the $13 billion dollar a year porn industry itself aren't exactly crazy about being shepherded together into a kind of digital red light district.

Steve Hirsch, founder of the Vivid Entertainment Group called the domain name, "a slippery slope for the legal adult business. "

But someone must like the idea. At least according to ICM's chief executive, Stuart Lawley, who claims that there are already 112,000 reservations for .xxx domain names. Lawley goes as far as to call the .xxx domain name a "quality assurance label."

It should be noted that ICANN have not exactly approved the .xxx domain name as of yet. Friday's decision means they are have merely not rejected ICM's latest application and may be giving it serious consideration.

So whether or not the digital red light district will ever emerge however remains to be seen as even if the domain were created, there's nothing that would force companies to abandon their .com addresses for .xxx ones.

Still, Computers As Humans thinks it's a good idea. Pornography will always be a presence on the Internet. Any step to potentially rein it in together into a kind of seedy ghetto district on the web is probably a good one. The .xxx domain name, were it to really catch on, would make it easy to identify porn sites. This would in turn make it easier of course for interested users to find them. However it would also make it easier for the rest of us to avoid them.

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