ICM Registry counts cost of .XXX domain rejection

ICM Registry counts cost of .XXX domain rejection

Summary: The company that proposed the .XXX domain says the US government made ICANN reverse its position

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TOPICS: Networking
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The company behind the failed .xxx domain proposal says it spent nearly $3m before ICANN rejected the bid -- a move that the company believes was the result of pressure from Washington.

Stuart Lawley, the chairman and president of ICM Registry, is now asking ICANN for an explanation for why nine out of the 14 board members voted against the proposed .XXX domain -- especially after the board approved the concept less than a year ago, in June 2005.

He expressed his frustration at ICANN: "We've spent nearly six years and 3 million dollars on this. We have followed the rules and have been told that we've got through at various stages. The fact that this happened leaves a sour taste," he said.

ICM Registry is now considering its next move. "There are a variety of routes for us to go down and we are considering all our options," said Lawley.

Paul Twomey, the chief of ICANN, claimed last week that the decision "was not driven by a political consideration", but Lawley disagrees. He believes the main reason for ICANN's decision was the "US government's intervention".

"We filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year, which details the scale of the US government's intervention," said Lawley, although he was unwilling to provide any more details on what it had discovered.

When ICANN approved the concept of a .XXX domain in June last year, it was expected that the domains would be available by the end of the year. But, following intensive lobbying from conservative groups in the US, ICANN's final approval was repeatedly delayed.

Although some industry experts were expecting the proposal to be rejected, Lawley said it came as a surprise to him.

"Vint Cerf [the chairman of ICANN] told the press and some other people in Wellington [New Zealand] at the end of March that he intended to vote for it and he hasn't," said Lawley. "Some board members have always been against it, but six have changed their vote from a yes to a no vote."

Conservative family groups in the US had criticised the .XXX proposal, saying that it would legitimise pornography, but Lawley disagreed that this was the case.

"They obviously got the wrong end of the stick. They said that if you acknowledge it, you're endorsing it, which clearly isn't the case," he said. "To pretend the adult entertainment industry doesn't exist is a short-sighted view. I don't know if anyone really thought that if you ignored it, it would go away."

ZDNet UK asked Lawley what his advice would be to companies that are considering proposing a new top-level domain.

"I would say to them, good luck. Make sure you've got deep pockets and plenty of time," he said.

Topic: Networking

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