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Government opposes .xxx domains

Andrew Colley | July 10, 2009

ADULT entertainment companies seeking to operate internet red light districts would face resistance from the Rudd Labor government.

The government said it would oppose their creation when they become available under the global internet regulator's new scheme to allow registration of generic top-level-domains (gTLDs).

The domain names, which would be created to accommodate adult content, are expected to be in high demand when the world's internet names regulator, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), starts accepting applications next February.

Each could net ICANN tens of millions of dollars and several Australian companies are believed to be among those which have expressed strong interest in registering them.

AusRegistry, which operates Australia's peak domain registry for .au, has revealed that it has been approached by several entities planning to apply to register adult-themed gTLDs including, .xxx and .sex.

However, a spokeswoman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the government was opposed to the creation of adult-themed domain names.

"The government does not support the creation of the .xxx TLD," the spokeswoman said. She did not elaborate.

A previous attempt to create an internet red light district by a US registry operator, which sought to have .xxx ratified by ICANN, failed in 2006.

At the time, the plan faced criticism from churches and the adult entertainment industry who found themselves in a rare alliance on the issue.

Christian lobbies objected on grounds that the TLD would make pornography easier for children to access.

Adult entertainment groups were concerned that their constituents would be forced into a ghettoised sector of the internet that would be easy for governments to block.

They were also concerned that adult content web service providers would lose value built into their existing .com- and .net-based addresses.

ICANN's board voted against the plan as the registry couldn't demonstrate it represented the sex industry with sufficient unanimity. However, the procedures for approving new gTLDs currently being contemplated by ICANN will give responsibility for approving controversial domains to an independent arbiter.

Groups and individuals that object to the creation of a domain name on morality and public order grounds will be able to apply to a judiciary convened by the International Chamber of Commerce. Its decisions will be based on existing trade and human rights covenants.

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