.xxx approval a positive sign
Date: Thursday June 02 2005, @08:45PM
Topic: gTLDs hoping to enter the legacy root

Lauren Weinstein got it right? Surely you jest, Michael. (Sorry to have to use the front page of ICANN for dialogue, but our comment spaces have been polluted by one or two noisesome fools. Y'all know who you are.)

The issue is simple. ICANN's job is to coordinate the top level of the domain name space. Full stop. If someone puts forward a technically credible application for a .xxx TLD and no one else has it, then they should get an exclusive assignment. People who want ICANN to refuse to create a TLD because of its meaning or content, or because of speculation that its meaning might trigger political and legal effects they disapprove of, are asking ICANN to broaden its mission to make inappropriate policy judgments. They are, in effect, asking ICANN to act as a content regulator. That's wrong. It's particularly troublesome when this position is espoused by people who think of themselves as freedom-loving opponents of censorship. They seem to be trying to advance a "libertarian" cause by forcibly preventing web site suppliers from clearly and voluntarily identifying themselves as porn, and they are preventing users from benefiting from that self-identification, either to find or avoid the adult content. What kind of freedom is this?

Weinstein comes from that strange but deeply-rooted band of old-line techies who believe that their technical experience can be translated into a generalized claim that they know what's best for the Internet, despite an often astounding ignorance of legal and regulatory principles and methods. See the IETF informational RFC ".Sex Considered Dangerous" for a full dose of this. LW by the way is the same person who is absolutely convinced that privacy rights don't exist on the Internet, because LW got used to having the WHOIS data available and thinks it's convenient. Never mind thirty years of privacy law.

Yes, many of them say they are against content regulation of the Internet and fear that a porn TLD will play into the hands of censors. As Weinstein puts it:

"Unlike other "topic-specific" TLDs like dot-jobs or dot-travel, the existence of dot-ex-ex-ex is likely to create a political and litigious firestorm over time, as various government entities move to try force "adult" sites into the new domain space, and battles erupt over what an adult site is defined to be."

This argument shows just how insulated these folks are from legal and political reality. I mean, where has LW been since 1996? Ever heard of the CDA? COPA? There have already been monumental battles over how obscenity on the Internet is defined, and many, many efforts to regulate it, not just in the US but globally. Most of the US efforts have been struck down by the US Supreme Court on grounds that would apply equally well to any effort to force all explicit web sites, not to mention health web sites, into a specific TLD.

The point is, if governments or the "religious right" want to go after porn or naked bodies on the Internet, they don't need .xxx to do it.

More generally, we've all got to get away from the notion that TLD creation is a beauty contest that invites everyone in the world to ruminate on whether they think the world would be a better place if the TLD application is successful. Somewhere in this world, at this moment, someone is registering a domain name. Maybe it's xxx in the second level. Do you want your registrar or registry jumping into the middle of this process and asking, "hey what do you plan to do with this domain?" or, "hey, what will be the long term consequences for free expression if we permit you to register that name?" Does that kind of prior restraint sound like a good idea? The Internet functions just fine without it, in my opinion.

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Well said Milton
by Anonymous on Friday June 03 2005, @02:24AM (#15408)
Finally someone has articulated a good point about the addition of .xxx. Thanks for posting your well said comment on the front page, rather than after the mindless comments attached to yesterday's post on .xxx.

ICANN taken a good step, and this is a sign that new gTLDs will be provided with the same review. If you meet the technical standards and have the funding to open a registry, you should be allowed in.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
False shortages
by michael (froomkin@lawUNSPAM.tm) on Friday June 03 2005, @05:26AM (#15410)
User #4 Info | http://www.discourse.net/
I think if we had a world where every reasonable proposal got a number and got in the queue, I'd agree with you Milton. And that's the best of all possible worlds. But in this world of needless rationing, I don't see why the insides like Palage should vault to the head of the queue over others. Nor do I see why this proposal is better than many others.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
I'd agree if there were not an artificial scarcity
by KarlAuerbach on Friday June 03 2005, @04:27PM (#15437)
User #3243 Info | http://www.cavebear.com/
If ICANN had not created an artificial scarcity of Top Level Domain name grants than I would agree that looking into the semantics and intended use of the applicant would be wrong. I said so quite explicitly in my platform when I ran for the ICANN board in year 2000.

However, ICANN has in fact created an artificial scarcity. And ICANN's nod, under the current circumstances, amounts to a highly valuable preference.

As long as ICANN maintains the artificial scarcity then it is indeed appropriate to pick and chose those who will receive the grant based on what they will do. And purvaying porn isn't something that deserves to be placed first - it deserves to come the end of the queue.

The answer, and I know we both agree on this, is to eliminate the artificial scarcity of TLDs. When that day comes, and under ICANN as it now exists I think that day will be a long time coming, then we can be blind to intended use. But as long as ICANN insists of making intended us a criteria, we should insist that those who receive the grant are those who contribute to social and economic progress rather than degrade it.
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