NAIROBI—The controversial years-long campaign by ICM Registry to manage a sponsored Dot XXX top-level domain will be on the agenda Friday at the ICANN meeting winding down in Nairobi. As is usually the case with .XXX on the ICANN agenda, it is being saved for last.
As previously reported, the ICM application was resurrected in late February with the release of the final report by an independent review panel, which voted 2-1 to recommend that ICANN allow the application to proceed. The recommendation is not binding, but still puts tremendous pressure on ICANN, whose former board officers provided testimony during the review process in support of the process that eventually rejected the ICM application in 2007.
ICM Registry continues to claim widespread support within the adult entertainment industry, of course, despite the fact that the vast majority of letters and other submissions of support have never been publicly released by either ICM or ICANN. With respect to opposition from many of the leading companies within the industry over the past five years, ICM has made—and the review panel has concurred with—the following assertions: The clock should be turned back; the sponsorship question was answered on June 1, 2005; and the ICM-ICANN agreement that was on the table before that date should be finalized. Essentially, the review panel is saying that if you did not file your objection during the comment period held in 2004, your opinion does not count.
None of this has stopped people from continuing to oppose the application, however.
According to the Brisbane Times, “AdultShop.com founder Malcolm Day told WAtoday.com.au from Sydney this morning that while he supported the censoring of adult material online—which would prevent children from accessing it—he agreed with the wider industry the .xxx suffix would give the government another weapon to block legitimate porn websites.”
"I am very concerned and fearful of censoring adult material that should be made available for adults," he said. "It scares the hell out of me.”
Considering that Australia is following through on its threat to filter adult content at the ISP level, Day’s concerns are not without merit.
Australian Sex Party convener Fiona Patten concurred, adding that the entire porn industry was against .XXX—particularly Down Under, precisely due to the alarming moves of her government. She also said that it was unlikely to strengthen efforts to protect children from viewing adult content.
"I don't think it's got anything to offer... except that [for example] Hustler.com's now got to buy Hustler.xxx to protect our trademarks and protect our names," she said, adding,"I can only see this as a money-making venture for ICM."
Ironically, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that a "spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the Government did not support the introduction of a .xxx top-level domain."
In the States, Diane Duke, the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, expressed her continuing opposition to the ICM application, saying, “Dot XXX does not have the support of the adult entertainment industry. [ICM chairman Stuart] Lawley proudly states that he is not part of the adult entertainment industry and he is not. He is yet another leech sucking revenues from adult entertainment and this time in the guise of ‘protecting children,’ a leech of the worst kind.”
While the assertion was made many times by ICM during its campaign to elicit industry support that the domain would provide an important layer of protection to children—and the application does include a provision that directs a portion of annual registration fees to child protection groups—Lawley has toned that line down of late, instead adding it to a list of benefits he claims will come with .XXX.
According to a March 10 article on CNET, “Lawley called .xxx ‘an attempt at credible self-regulation by engaging with other impacted stake holders.’ He said that adult sites that use .xxx would be subject to ‘best business practices’ [that prohibit] child pornography and malicious software. It would also be mandatory for .xxx sites to label their sites with machine readable tags. He called it a ‘win win win situation’ for the adult entertainment providers, consumers of adult entertainment, and parents who wished to keep their kids away from adult content.”
The Free Speech Coalition is already in the process of promulgating industry “Best Practices,” however, and a growing number of adult companies already label their sites in order to make it easy for filtering software to see them. By using the word “credible,” therefore, Lawley seems to be implying that without oversight from outside groups—which will have a majority of votes on IFFOR, the policy-making organization that is a part of the ICM application— the industry alone cannot self-regulate.
The final report of the independent review panel is here.
Consent Agenda Resolution
* Minutes of 4 February 2010 Meeting
* Minutes of 19 February 2010 Meeting
Main Board Meeting
* President’s Report
* Acknowledgment of Committee Reports Received by the Board
* Affirmation of Commitments Reviews – Status Report
* New gTLDs
- Consideration of Expressions of Interest
* Framework for FY11 Operating Plan
* Consideration of the Independent Review Panel Declaration ICM Registry v. ICANN
* Approval of Location of ICANN International Meeting December 2010
* Issues Arising from the Nairobi Meeting
* Any Other Business
* Thank You Resolutions