Porn Sites Closer to .xxx Web Address

A man surfs an internet sex site in Brussels, June 25, 2010. On Friday, June 25, 2010, porn sites stepped closer to a new ".xxx" Internet address after the global Internet oversight agency said it made mistakes in rejecting it three years ago. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo) Flux Books

An online red-light district could soon flourish under a new .xxx Internet address which backers say could help computers filter porn sites.

The company that wants to run .xxx has tried and failed three times before to win permission from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, to set up a top-level domain name - or TLD, the name for Web address suffixes such as .com or .org - dedicated to pornography.

ICM Registry LLC chief executive Stuart Lawley says the agency was under pressure from Christian groups and governments unhappy with the spread of online porn to reject his bid since he first tried to register the domain in 2000.

Under criticism from an outside panel, the agency's board acknowledged Friday that it had not treated the application fairly, saying it would now move swiftly to carry out standard checks on Lawley's company.

Lawley says he thinks the new address could easily attract at least 500,000 sites, making it after ".mobi" the second biggest sponsored top-level domain name.

He expects to make $30 million a year in revenue by selling each .xxx site for $60 - and pledges to donate $10 from each sale to child protection initiatives via a nonprofit he has set up.

He also says he will make it easy for Web blocking software to filter out ".xxx" sites by requiring them to carry a machine-readable metatag marking them clearly as porn.

"It will promote more labeled content," he said. "People who want to find it know where it is and people who don't see it or want to keep it away from their kids can use mechanisms to do so."

Skeptics note that porn sites would likely keep existing ".com" storefronts to allow their businesses to be found more easily. There is no requirement for porn sites to use .xxx.

The adult entertainment industry is worth some $13 billion a year, according to the California-based Adult Video News Media Network.

Lawley already has 110,000 reservations for the new domain, he says, and could get the Internet suffix up and running within six to nine months after ICANN checks that ICM has the financial means and technical know-how to run it.

"I think we could do a million or more. There are several million adult TLDs already out there," he told the AP before the ICANN board meeting.

ICANN acknowledged Friday that its refusal to accept .xxx was "not consistent with the application of neutral, objective and fair documented policy." It agreed to swiftly re-examine the ".xxx" application.

It is the first time that ICANN has been effectively forced to review a decision. ICANN says it is only obliged to follow the law of California, where it is based, but says it agreed to follow the findings of the accountability review by a panel drawn from the Internet community.
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