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IFFOR targets new gTLDs with policy service

Kevin Murphy, February 1, 2013, 15:08:20 (UTC), Domain Policy

The International Foundation For Online Responsibility, which sets policy for .xxx, wants to broaden its scope and is to launch a “Policy Engine” service for new gTLD registries.

Kieren McCarthy, who has been working for IFFOR as its public participation manager for the last year, has been tapped to lead the organization too, taking over from Joan Irvine as executive director in April.

IFFOR is the sponsoring organization for .xxx, independent but created by registry manager ICM Registry as a way to demonstrate to ICANN that it planned to operate the porn gTLD responsibly.

It’s kept a bit of a low profile since .xxx launched, only emerging to distribute some small grants to worthy causes, but McCarthy says that it’s built up substantial policy-making and compliance expertise.

Now, it wants to let new gTLD registries outsource these functions to it.

“Broadly, the Policy Engine service lets gTLD applicants outsource their policy issues to an independent body,” McCarthy said.

IFFOR reckons plenty of new gTLDs will want such services, especially given the increased interest from governments in how new gTLDs are operated.

As the organization is currently set up to deal only with .xxx — it’s funded $10 a year from every .xxx sold — only three of its nine-member Policy Council are not members of the adult entertainment industry or connected to ICM.

Additionally, ICM’s general counsel is on its three-member board of directors.

But McCarthy said that the Policy Council, which also has substantial expertise in privacy, child protection and free speech issues, usually uses sub-groups to come up with its policies.

“The majority of what we do is applicable across any top-level domain,” he said.

McCarthy is the former journalist and ICANN staffer, current CEO of .nxt. When he takes over from Irvine in April, she is expected to stay around as a consultant.

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Comments (7)

  1. laca says:

    So the idea is that new TLDs e.g. .accountants, .apartment, etc, will proudly proclaim, “Our policies were established by six pornographers. Our policies were established by the .xxx sponsorship community!” ?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      IFFOR will certainly have to address that problem.

    • It’s a fun quip, but in the same way you don’t associate YouTube with the adult industry (streaming video), Paypal with the adult industry (simple online credit card transactions), Digg (link sharing), Adsense (ad technology), affiliate marketing, live chat or many other online advances, we think that the solutions are what are important, not who they were initially developed for.

      If dot-accountant finds that our policies for registrant verification save them thousands of man-hours, or dot-apartment discovers that the auditing systems IFFOR has already introduced for another registry lifts a heavy compliance burden, I think they’ll be delighted.

      Such policies will of course also be customized – as an example, you would have to verify who people are in different ways depending on what the string is and who the target audience is. Where and how do people identify themselves as a particular group?

      Crucially, as the Internet has changed, so have the issues and problems for registries, registrars and registrants. IFFOR has led the way in find answers to some of these, such as content labeling, malware scanning, new IP measures, new compliance structures. Quite a few existing registries have been following suit – and check out the Congressional hearings last year where IFFOR policies were held up as the best solution on the market.

      Are these policies set in stone? Of course not: they need to be revised and updated, but we feel that IFFOR has already gone through that process at the registry-specific level once and so we have some really valuable expertise that we can share with new registries that will end up helping the whole industry.

      I know that’s not as fun an answer as it could be, but then it does represent the reality of what IFFOR actually does.

      Cheers

      Kieren

      • laca says:

        Despite the fact that, world wide, corporations and universities spent tens of millions of dollars to dis-associate themselves from the adult industry–as evidenced by the .xxx defensive registrations–the disassociative desire around which ICM built an entire business model–you believe that companies will pay money to be associated with and adopt policies that were developed BY, not just for, pornographers.

        What an interesting and fantastical idea.

  2. Rubens Kuhl says:

    So will Kieren reimburse .nxt customers, then ?

  3. laca says:

    He’s too busy being the poster boy for Online Responsibility to worry about things like integrity and accountability.

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