.XXX domain: A bit like Amsterdam...only different

Does the .xxx top-level domain actually mean anything for us? Not really. Playboy.com isn't going anywhere.

For some time now, many groups have called for a special .xxx domain that clearly designates pornographic content on the Internet. How easy would it be to simply filter everything in the so-called "Internet Red-Light District?" Now that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has tentatively agreed to create such a top-level domain, don't go dumping your content filters just yet.

Guess what? It's just a name. Have you ever been to Amsterdam? It's an incredibly cool city with rich history, beautiful museums, countless cultures and all of their associated tasty food, easy walks through the canals, friendly people, and a Red Light District that must be seen to be believed. Even if you have no interest in the pot, the prostitutes, or the live sex shows, it's worth a quick walk through just to say, "Huh...I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore." However, coffeeshops selling marijuana and hash can be found throughout Amsterdam. The concentration is highest in the Red Light District, but they certainly exist elsewhere. Same for prostitution. It's legal and regulated throughout the Netherlands.

The .xxx domain will be no different. According to an article in the New York Times,

...Most...members [of the Free Speech Coalition] planned to continue operating out of their dot-com domains...

In fact, the Times story suggested that only about 10% of the adult sites on the web would adopt a .xxx domain name. It is, after all, just a name. ICANN doesn't set laws or policies. It simply decides, among other things, what top-level domains are available for registration and to whom. It isn't in a position to force Hustler to change the domain name for which it has paid.

So here's what this development boils down to for schools, parents, and anyone else who wants to regulate how much pornography kids see online: nothing. Even some large religious groups opposed the creation of the .xxx domain, suggesting that creation of such a domain would actually encourage online pornography. Interestingly, the city of Amsterdam has moved in recent years to restrict their own Red Light District, citing criminal activity and abuse of the laissez-faire laws in the city. Will the use of the .xxx domain end any differently? Probably not.

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