ICANN approves .xxx top-level domain

After years of discussion, the .xxx domain space is finally coming to the porn world

The adult entertainment industry now has a home on the Internet: It's called .xxx.

The group that manages the Internet's top-level domains -- the .com, .org and .net that we all type at the end of e-mail messages and Web addresses -- said Friday that it will establish a .xxx domain, a move that it hopes will add a measure of predictability and security to the wild world of Internet websites. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) signed off on the process at a meeting in San Francisco this week.

Pornography is often used to lure Web surfers to dangerous or fraudulent sites. By regulating .xxx, ICANN hopes to make things better.

Anyone who wants to register a .xxx domain will first have to go through an application process that's approved by the International Foundation for Online Responsibility. This procedure is intended to ensure that .xxx domains don't engage in fraud, child pornography and other practices. At the same time, having a domain set aside specifically for adult websites would make it easier for users to block such sites from their browsing experience.

The move gives consumers "reassurance they are more protected from the risk of viruses, identity theft, credit card fraud and inadvertent exposure to child abuse images," ICANN said Friday in a statement announcing the decision.

However, critics say established porn sites are unlikely to give up their .com domains just because there's a .xxx option. That means anyone who thinks he's filtered porn by filtering out all .xxx domains from his network is due for a nasty surprise. In addition, porn site operators won't be forced to get .xxx domain names and go through the vetting process.

ICANN has been toying with the idea of introducing .xxx for about a decade. The board had approved the new top-level domain in June, but now the decision is final.

Longtime .xxx proponent ICM Registry will be the .xxx registrar. The company says it has received applications to pre-register more than 200,000 .xxx domains.

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Robert McMillan

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