Should the Internet have a .XXX TLD for porn?

Summary:There are many different arguments for and against a .xxx top-level domain. What do you think?

So here's the question: should the Internet have a .xxx top-level domain for porn? It seems like a pretty straightforward question, but the sides are massing to do battle over it once again.

The BBC is reporting that pressure is intensifying on ICANN to allow the .xxx TLD to be made available. Back in 2005, the ICANN had initially planned to create a .xxx top-level domain, but under pressure from conservative groups, backed off.

But now, a domain registrar by the name of ICM Registry is pushing for .xxx once again. The company claims it spent millions on fees to move the process forward. Of course, if they get the registration rights for .xxx, they stand to mint money, so it's probably a safe gamble.

But the question of .xxx isn't so clear cut. At first, for example, it seems like a no-brainer to have a .xxx domain where all the porn companies can go to sell their smut. Many legitimate sex content companies may welcome a domain of their own, where it's easy to apply content controls, and where they're safe to let it all hang out.

But then there's the issue of censorship. What if countries or regions decide to simply block the .xxx TLD? Wouldn't that make the .xxx domains into something of a ghetto? On the other hand, part of the reason for a .xxx TLD is to make it easy to block, so people who don't want that kind of thing can clearly keep it out.

Then there's the issue of true dirtbags, those people who sell or purvey smut and don't want to be restricted to the .xxx domain. Those people might hide their dirty sites amongst the more legitimate domains, effectively countering the benefit of the .xxx domain.

It's weird. Some anti-porn conservatives and pro-porn free speech advocates are on the same side. The anti-porn conservatives don't want anything having to do with porn, so they don't want to allow a .xxx top-level domain. And the free speech advocates are concerned that anything that self-identifies as porn will be censored, so they also argue against the .xxx domain.

See also: From 2004: The battle over triple 'x' From 2005: Bush administration objects to .xxx domains From 2007: ICANN rejects .xxx domain registry

What do you think? Does the Internet need it's PRON in the form of a .xxx domain? TalkBack below.

Topics: Browser

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In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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