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RE: Michelle L. Freridge

  • To: mailto: xxx-tld-agreement@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: RE: Michelle L. Freridge
  • From: Titmowse of CozyFrog <blogslut@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 10 May 2006 10:30:52 -0400

Ms. Freridge wrote a complelling email on the subjext of the .xxx TLD. Unfortunately, it was sent in HTML format and is therefore unreadable. I have taken the opportunity to re-create Ms. Freridge's letter in text format, for the benefit of this forum:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
May 9, 2006


Dear ICANN Board of Directors,

As you may already be aware, the Free Speech Coalition is the trade association for the adult entertainment industry, with over 3000 members from every sector of the business. We are already on record as being opposed to the current ICM Registry application to create a .XXX top-level domain (TLD), but I thought I might take this opportunity to reiterate once again a few of the reasons why we believe this proposal must not be approved.

First, it is our firmly held opinion that such a domain will do little, if anything, to keep minors from accessing adult content on the Internet. We are not alone in that. We know that at least one Board member of ICANN believes that .XXX will not be effective in keeping minors from adult websites. If your own people believe this, what reason is there to even pretend that the protection of children is the motivating reason for .XXX?

In fact, greed is the real motivation behind this application, and it is no secret that .XXX has the potential to earn ICM Registry millions of dollars. Other than that self-serving prospect, however, we can see no other compelling reason for such a TLD to exist, and indeed, we think it is likely that .XXX will result in a wave of trademark litigation that will serve no purpose but to line the pockets of intellectual property attorneys. In the meanwhile, as people and companies are bickering over domains, governments and private industry will also be eyeing the .XXX domain, with an eye not toward money but control.

Already, there is pending legislation in the United States that would make .XXX mandatory, and in Australia to make ISP-level filtering the law. In the latter circumstance, the default setting for access to adult content will be off â it will not get through â unless the subscriber contacts the ISP and effectively âregistersâ to receive it. In a world in which ISPs are handing over subscriber information to government entities at the drop of a hat, we are appalled that ICANN â a avowed force for freedom and openness in the world â would allow itself to become an unwitting pawn in such an unconscionable plan to control access to lawful content.

Then there is the specter of private industry â VISA, ISPs, Search Engines â effectively making the use of .XXX mandatory. There is nothing in the current ICANN/ICM Agreement that limits what such players may require in connection with .XXX. Quite apart from what these other companies might do, the current proposed ICANN-ICM agreement contains provisions that would seriously undercut the constitutional victories that we won in the U.S. Supreme Court and are fighting to establish in the lower federal courts. We are naturally quite concerned about these provisions, and we would be happy to detail our concerns.

But perhaps our greatest concern has to do with the methods used by ICM Registry to gain support in the industry, and ICANNâs complicity in refusing to put into place a mechanism that assures that, with respect to a sponsored application, companies in the target industry are not promised monetary rewards or favors for their support. The Free Speech Coalition itself was approached and offered a percentage of registration fees for our support. We declined, but we suspect that others did not. In light of these possibilities, we have to wonder why ICANN has steadfastly refused to publish the names of the people and companies who support this application. We understand why ICM Registry might want to keep those names secret, but ICANNâs oft-stated mission is to maintain a posture of neutrality and transparency, and we are pained to see that neither of these laudable traits is in evidence in this case.

The Free Speech Coalition is dedicated to protecting the welfare of the industry our members represent, and we will continue to provide that important service whether this application is approved or not, but we are serious when we say that profit-making schemes that endanger our hard-won freedoms do not sit well with us. How much more evidence than the legislation currently pending in Congress do you need to see that this application, in practice and precedent, could very well turn out to be one of the worst things that ever happened to the Internet, and I wonder how on earth you can oppose the idea of a tiered Internet and still support this equally foolish idea.

I could go on, but the point is clear. You simply must not approve the ICM Registry application.

Sincerely,

Michelle L. Freridge
Executive Director
Free Speech Coalition
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love,

Titmowse



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