Will the adults-only .xxx top-level domain be approved today, or will the hot potato be tossed to governments for a decision?
That’s the question facing ICANN’s board of directors, which is set to discuss the controversial TLD for the umpteenth time today.
The last resolution it passed on .xxx called for a public comment period, followed by a decision on whether the registry contract is compatible with old Governmental Advisory Committee advice.
With the comment period closed, it appears that all that remains is to decide whether a new GAC consultation is required before the contract can be approved or rejected.
Some opponents of .xxx are demanding a GAC consultation.
Diane Duke, director of porn trade group the Free Speech Coalition, wrote to ICANN this week, urging it to refer the application back to the GAC.
As Duke knows, many international governments are opposed to .xxx.
A week ago, Australia’s socially conservative, pro-censorship broadband minister, Stephen Conroy, also asked ICANN for another GAC consultation, expressing his “strong opposition” to the TLD due to its “lack of identified public benefit”.
And Conroy is surely not alone. There can be few governments that would be happy to be seen to endorse pornography, regardless of its legal status in their jurisdictions.
The GAC is firmly of the view that “controversial” TLDs present a risk to the global interoperability of the internet. The fear is that strings such as .xxx could lead to blocking at national borders and ultimately fragmentation of the DNS root.
Whichever decision ICANN makes today, it is sure to cause controversy one way or another.
ICANN has turned down a request from porn trade group the Free Speech Coalition for more information about the .xxx top-level domain application, including a list of its pre-registrations.
This would make the information exempt from ICANN’s Documentary Information Disclosure Policy.
The FSC had specifically requested:
1. The list of the IFFOR Board members;
2. The list of proposed members of the Policy Council;
3. IFFOR’s Business Plan/Financials;
4. Business Plan/Financials Years 1‐5 utilizing 125,000 Initial Registrations;
5. The list of .XXX sTLD pre-registrants who have been identified to ICANN; and
6. ICM’s Proof of Sponsorship Community Support as submitted to ICANN.
According to ICANN, ICM was asked if it would like to lift the confidentiality restrictions and ICM did not respond.
The FSC believes that many of .xxx’s 180,000+ pre-registrations are defensive in nature, made by pornographers who would really prefer that the TLD is never approved, which ICM disputes.
ICANN’s latest public comment period on the .xxx top-level domain closes today with nary a Christian in sight.
The latest forum is the sixth that ICM Registry has had to endure since it first filed its TLD application, and most of them have been marked by voluminous outcries orchestrated by US-based religious groups.
Organizations such as the Family Research Council have been responsible for tens of thousands of form-letter comments over the years, but this time they’re nowhere to be seen.
Their efforts lobbying the Bush administration were credited by some with killing off the TLD by back-channels a few years ago.
So have they given up, changed tactics, or did somebody just miss a memo? Beats me.
In other .xxx news, today I’ve also reported on recent developments at ICM, including a plan to create several free-to-list directory sites on “super-premium” .xxx domains. To find out more, head over to The Register.
It has not and may never be delegated, but the .xxx top-level domain now has more pre-registrations than .asia, the last big gTLD launch, has live domains.
The ICM Registry web site currently counts 180,352 pre-regs. ICM tells me this number counts the unique strings that have been applied for, excluding duplicate applications.
By contrast, DotAsia’s two-year-old namespace had shrunk to 177,872 by the start of September, according to HosterStats.
The company has previously said that only 6,435 pre-regs were self-identified as defensive in nature, although this is disputed by its opponents at the Free Speech Coalition.
The Free Speech Coalition has issued an official call to action to rally its members against the .xxx top-level domain application.
It’s been on the front page of the porn trade group’s web site since yesterday, but has been slow to take off judging by the number of responses filed with ICANN in the last 24 hours.
The FSC wants it members to write to ICANN to ask for the TLD to be rejected. It hits seven major points, but essentially just backs up what FSC chair Diane Duke told ICANN last week, which I reported on here.
There’s also a Zoomerang survey that industry members can take. It asks users to merely answer two questions in the affirmative:
I am a member of the online adult entertainment community and I oppose ICM’s application for a .XXX sTL
I have have defensively pre-registered .XXX domain names and I oppose .XXX
The idea is to show that many .xxx pre-registrations are made by people who would prefer that the TLD never sees the light of day.