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ICANN puts porn gTLDs on hold for no good reason?

Kevin Murphy, July 4, 2014, 08:07:07 (UTC), Domain Policy

In a decision that seems to have come out of nowhere, ICANN has effectively put bids for three porn-themed new gTLDs on hold.

In a June 21 meeting, the board’s New gTLD Program Committee discussed .adult, .sex and .porn, calling them “sensitive strings”.

While it passed no resolution, I understand that ICANN legal staff is delaying the signing of contracts for at least one of these gTLDs while the NGPC carries out its talks.

It’s a surprising development, given that the three strings are not subject to any Governmental Advisory Committee advice, are not “Community” applications, and have not been formally objected to by anyone.

The report from the NGPC meeting acknowledges the lack of a GAC basis for giving the strings special treatment (emphasis added):

The Committee engaged in a discussion concerning applications for several adult-oriented strings in the current round of the New gTLD Program, including .ADULT, .PORN, and .SEX. The applications propose to serve the same sector as the .XXX sponsored TLD. Staff noted that the applications were not the subject of GAC advice, or any special safeguards, other the safeguards that are applicable to all new gTLDs. The Committee considered how the safeguards in the new gTLD Program compare to the safeguards that were included in the .XXX Registry Agreement. The Committee requested staff prepare additional briefing materials, and agreed to discuss the matter further at a subsequent meeting.

This begs the question: why is ICANN giving .porn et al special treatment?

What’s the basis for suggesting that these three strings should be subject to the same safeguards that were applied to .xxx, which was approved under the 2003 sponsored gTLD round?

.porn, .sex and .adult were were applied for under the 2012 new gTLD program, which has an expectation of predictability and uniformity of treatment as one of its founding principles.

Who decided that .sex is “sensitive” while .sexy is not? On what basis?

Is it because, as the NGPC report suggests, that the three proposed gTLDs “serve the same sector” as .xxx?

That wouldn’t make any sense either.

Doesn’t .vacations, a contracted 2012-round gTLD, serve the same sector as .travel, a 2003-round sponsored gTLD? Why wasn’t .vacations subject to additional oversight?

Is it rather the case that the NGPC is concerned that ICM Registry, operator of .xxx, has applied for these three porn strings and proposes to grandfather existing .xxx registrants?

That also wouldn’t make any sense.

.sex has also been applied for by Internet Marketing Solutions, a company with no connection to .xxx or to the 2003 sponsored gTLD round. Why should this company’s application be subject to additional oversight?

And why didn’t .career, which “serves the same sector” as the sponsored-round gTLD .jobs and was applied for by the same guys who run .jobs, get this additional scrutiny before it signed its contract?

It all looks worryingly arbitrary to me.

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Comments (22)

  1. Rubens Kuhl says:

    .islam and .halal are the other TLDs currently hold by NGPC discretionary decision. I don’t want to walk in the shoes of who gets to explain that to islamics.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      That’s not quite true. The GAC did issue advice on .islam and .halal. It wasn’t consensus-objection advice, but it was advice.

      http://domainincite.com/15259-icann-will-have-to-make-a-call-on-islam

      The GAC recognizes that Religious terms are sensitive issues. Some GAC members have raised sensitivities on the applications that relate to Islamic terms, specifically .islam and .halal. The GAC members concerned have noted that the applications for .islam and .halal lack community involvement and support. It is the view of these GAC members that these applications should not proceed.

      There’s no GAC advice whatsoever for .porn etc.

      • Rubens Kuhl says:

        It is still NGPC discretionary power here. They are treating only consensus GAC advice as binding and could move forward with those applications like .spa, .wine, .vin. Actually there is one religious sensitive string being held, .ram, alongside .indians, both subject of non-consensus advice.

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          But .spa, .wine and .vin were put on hold following GAC advice.

          There’s NO advice whatsoever on .porn, never has been.

          It’s a completely different matter.

    • HowieCrosby says:

      The whole agenda has become so sensitive now. It’s a shame.

  2. HowieCrosby says:

    Maybe it has something to do with latest headlines regarding Google?
    “Google is banning pornographic adverts from appearing on its search engine.”

  3. Google has many lobbyists working the floor, if this is a surprise you have not payed close attention to the current environment. expect more barriers to porn in resolving and retrieval issues.

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger))

  4. Kevin Murphy says:

    This has nothing to do with Google. I don’t know how anyone could draw that conclusion.

    • HowieCrosby says:

      @murphy You only have the report as evidence based literature, you do not support your writing with any other argument or evidence to challenge this.

      Its just a post. Ive made my comment and you have returned with a poor authors blurb.

  5. James says:

    Interesting, given the absence of any previous advice or objections.. Is the NGPC now pre-emptively surrendering to the GAC?

  6. Rubens Kuhl says:

    ICANN’s Board of Directors has ultimate responsibility for
    the New gTLD Program. The Board reserves the right to
    individually consider an application for a new gTLD to
    determine whether approval would be in the best interest
    of the Internet community. Under exceptional
    circumstances, the Board may individually consider a gTLD
    application. For example, the Board might individually
    consider an application as a result of GAC Advice on New
    gTLDs or of the use of an ICANN accountability
    mechanism. ”

    GAC Advice and accountability mechanisms are routes to NGPC consideration of individual applications, but not the only way to get there. They are listed as examples, not as the only possibilities.

  7. laca says:

    The transatlantic trade-war for control of the adult industry has clearly taken a dramatic turn. Score one for the Yanks on Independence Day–seems approriate, doesn’t it.

  8. JohC says:

    If Google-related, the NGPC’s actions might be motivated by Google’s recent policy changes on porn-related ads:

    https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/4271759?hl=en&ref_topic=29265

  9. Acro says:

    Don’t expect any prompt resolutions on any subject, from bureaucrats whose “usefulness” is only related to the length of their involvement. In other words, ICANNT.

  10. Max says:

    Acro you’re spot on with that one, methinks 😛

    any further news on this?

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