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RE: .xxx is still a bad idea

  • To: <stld-rfp-xxx@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: RE: .xxx is still a bad idea
  • From: "Aaron D. Sanders" <adsanders@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 29 Apr 2004 09:18:29 -0400
  • Reply-to: "Aaron D. Sanders" <adsanders@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Michael,
 
I agree and yet I aslo disagree, so let me see if I can offer a well-written pro-.xxx rebuttel:


>>First, the .xxx registry does *not* have the power to make the
>>other registries stop allowing adult content. (If registries had
>>the power to retroactively add restrictions to other registries'
>>charters, the entire TLD system would be unstable to the point
>>of uselessness; no domain registrant could ever depend on using
>>a TLD for its original intent.) Does anybody here think that the
>>.com and .biz registries will *voluntarily* give up all the easy
>>porn money? (If they do, they're delusional.) As an
>>non-pornographer, I *have* to object to any policy that would
>>lead to TLDs unilaterally altering other TLDs' charters.

There are a couple of things to remember here. First, we are looking at the situation from the "best-possible" scenario. Most of the hopes for the .xxx TLD may turn out to be pipe dreams, but at least we are trying. You are absolutely correct to say that the proposal does not mention moving all adult content to the .xxx TLD, nor would that be possible for a registry alone. I think that you are wrong though in believing that adult entertainment companies are giving up "easy money" by moving their domains to .xxx. The only people that accidentally stumble onto adult content on other TLDs is children and they cannot pay to view the content, and it would be illegal for them to do so anyhow. Adult companies, especially ones that register similar addresses (such as the once-infamous www.whitehouse.com, which the previous owner dropped because his kids are now old enough to discover it), make money from people that can pay by credit card. The people that stumble onto a site are children and adults not interested in adult content, and neither of those provides revenue to adult entertainment companies. The people that do purchase a membership at such sites are specifically looking for adult content, and they know how and where to look. 
>>Finally, even if the anti-porn crowd routed around ICANN and
>>tried to get government intervention to move all adult content
>>to .xxx, they would have to do so in *every* *country* *on*
>>*Earth*. Otherwise, all you're doing is giving a competitive
>>advantage to pornographers in countries that don't have such
>>laws. Of course, many countries will *never* pass such laws,
>>some of the countries that might pass them have Supreme Courts
>>that would invalidate such laws, and the 200 nations on Earth
>>will never agree on an international definition of "adult
>>content", which makes the whole issue moot. (Afficionados of
>>adult content will just end up patronizing content providers in
>>the least strict countries; at best, Internet anti-porn rules
>>will be an economic boost for countries will weak restrictions,
>>and an economic penalty for countries with strict rules.)

Truthfully, ICANN probably could force all adult content to the .xxx TLD, because as we have seen through the last few years, the organization can do anything it wants without anyone standing in its way. Should it have the power and authority to do so? Absolutely not. Do they? Well, I guess so. I have yet to see any evidence that ICANN can be stopped from doing anything. Will they force a move? Absolutely not. It would be in direct violation of the creed of "technical governance only" (even though they make plenty of decisions that are obviously political governance, they just won't admit it). As for the global nature of the Internet, that is a problem. Even within our own country it is a problem. Take a look at Title 18, Part I, Chapter 110, Section 2256 of the United States Code. This is the section that defines child pornography in this country. It leaves a huge loophole by defining child pornography only when there are "provocative positions" involved. So some nude pictures of people under the age of 18 are considered are, not pornography. Even within our own country we cannot decide upon singular standards, much less globally. But many countries are very upset at ICANN for their repeated failures, and the United Nations has taken notice. Here's how I hope the situation plays out (and it might be wishful thinking on my part): The .xxx TLD gets approved. The United Nations steps in and takes control of ICANN (which I think they will). From that point forward, ICANN must answer to the UN for their decisions. A little oversight and accountability is just what ICANN needs. The UN, a globally defined entity, puts the pressure on for things is believes in, namely human rights and child protection. A few companies move to .xxx. Now there is huge peer pressure for others to move. All it would take is for a few organizations to move their operations to .xxx, combined with pressure from the public and the UN, and I think you would see most sites moving their operations. 

I just *know* somebody will say "Filtering is to protect
children, so it doesn't matter if .xxx is filtered more." Yeah,
right. There are already ISPs and entire *countries* trying to
block adult content from their networks. .xxx's filterability
*will* be used to block content from adults, giving an economic
advantage to non-xxx domains. Given the same content on an .xxx
and a non-xxx domain, the .xxx domain will have a smaller
audience because of compulsory filtering. Does the adult content
industry need a TLD guaranteed to make them *less* money that
the other TLDs? Probably not. 

You're right that filtering will hurt companies in the .xxx TLD at first. There will definitely be an adjustment period when companies start moving their operations over. Big companies want to block their employees from adult content as well. Productivity and the threat of a sexual harassment lawsuit are too much of a risk for most companies today. Anything that adds to the capabilities of content blocking (in appropriate situations) is worth a try. This domain doesn't hurt anyone, and ICANN has approved so many other worthless domains in its time, there's no reason not to give it a try. If companies want to maintain a dual presence in .xxx and .com at first, then so be it. I would encourage them to do so, and give everyone some good statistical and economical figures to examine regarding the success (or failure) of the .xxx TLD. Again, I would be interested to see if companies actually loose much money, as you suggest. I think most blocking/filtering is done by businesses, schools, and Communist countries, all of which probably do not provide much of a revenue stream to the adult industry as it is. I could be wrong, but I don't think that I am. China already has a national firewall, so I doubt residents of that country provide much revenue to American adult entertainment companies as it is.
 
All you really get from the .xxx proposal is a hyper-specialized
version of .com, whose rollout will probably resemble the chaos
of .biz: A series of fights and lawsuits betweeen companies
making defensive registrations and domain-squatters trying to
grab "kewl" domain names. (As someone who used to work for a
domain registrar, I'm confident that the only people who really
benefit from such chaos are the registrars and registries
getting paid for the chaos.)


The .xxx TLD is still one of the worst TLD proposals around.
ICANN should reject it, and reject it loudly, otherwise we'll be
having this debate *every* time ICANN solicits proposals for new
TLDs.


I wouldn't call it one of the worst proposals around for the reasons you mentioned. Maybe it will be ineffective, maybe not. I think it is worth trying, especially in the post-Super Bowl era, where the government is looking at everything and anything that it can label as inappropriate. There is nothing wrong with making proactive steps to show good faith efforts. Will .xxx be a failure? Perhaps, although I don't believe so. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If it fails, it won't be the first failed TLD ICANN has introduced. And it probably won't be the last. Hopefully we get a chance to find out.
 
Aaron
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aaron D. Sanders
A+   Network+   MCP Windows 98
Second year student in the Master of Science in Information Technology program at Rochester Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Science in Information Systems - Clarion University of Pennsylvania
PGP Public Key available from http://www.adsanders.net
Professional Web Site: http://www.adsanders.net


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