June 07, 2005

Censors Against dot-XXX domain

Continuing the analysis of dot-XXX "domain pornography", note the very strong statements of censors (my emphasis):

CWA Says ICANN'S XXX Domain Should Be Canned

Washington, D.C. -- Concerned Women for America (CWA) says the plan by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to create a XXX domain for Internet porn sites is an idea that should be canned because it creates more problems than it can possibly solve. ...

"The only restriction on XXX domain participants is for any sexually explicit content to feature only adults, but there's no requirement to block access to kids. It legitimizes pornography and makes it even easier for kids to find it. It won't make software filters any more effective," [CWA's chief counsel Janet] LaRue added. "People who equate this with zoning brick-and-mortar sexually oriented businesses are clueless about cyberspace and how it operates.

"Most of the porn sites offer hard-core porn that is prosecutable under federal law. Giving them a XXX domain makes as little sense as giving illicit drug cartels a domain," LaRue concluded.

Also heard from: Family Research Council Voices Opposition to '.xxx' Domain Name: "The '.xxx' domain also cloaks the porn industry with legitimacy. The industry will have a place at the table in developing and maintaining their new property".

And Enough-Is-Enough quoted (my emphasis) "It's a nice little red-light district for the pornographers, but I don't think it's going to do anything to protect kids," said [Donna Rice] Hughes, president of the group Enough is Enough. "It's not going to make filters work any better."

When notable censors are saying very loudly, essentially, "THIS WON'T HELP US CENSOR", so they don't want it, I tend to think that's useful to know. It's not dispositive. But a good rule of thumb all the same.

Contrast this with censorware history, where the Religious Right did "Filtering Facts" funding, and well as interesting connections, and the utility of the indicator should be clear.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on June 07, 2005 01:34 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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And what I get out of those statements is not that they don't want kids to have access to such material, but that they don't want anyone to have access to that material. That they believe any set-aside TLD means such material is somehow acceptable, and they don't want to concede that much.

Protecting kids is just a camel's nose towards blocking everybody entirely.

Thanks for posting these.

Posted by: Lis Riba at June 7, 2005 08:41 AM

of COURSE it helps them censor. It makes censoring as easy as it can be, practically. Block all XXX domains and feel righteous that you've done your part in the war against nakedness and sex. While you're at it, apply lots of pressure to non XXX domain sites [children's underwear ads, art photography &c] to move into XXX territory so that you can ignore them more effectively.

I ask a lot of librarians "If there were such a thing as a perfect filter, would your opinion on filtering change?" I'm pretty sure mine wouldn't, but it's an interesting thought exercise.

Posted by: jessamyn at June 7, 2005 09:57 AM

Exactly, the XXX TLD makes blocking so easy that you don't need censorware companies anymore. No wonder they claim it won't work. 8-)

Posted by: Florian Weimer at June 7, 2005 01:59 PM

Lis: Right. They think the .XXX is going to hurt their attempts at legal prohibitions against such material for adults - rather than helping them marginalize such material.

Jessamyn: .XXX is a rating/labelling system - but it's a very crude one, not as good for censorship as the PICS-derived systems which have been around for a long time.

Florian: Remember, the Internet is international, there's plenty of countries which could ignore .XXX.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at June 7, 2005 08:28 PM

Seth, the Internet may be international, but the economy is not. In the end, the economy might win:


We'll see in a couple of days how effective the U.S.-led global Internet censorship efforts are.

Posted by: Florian Weimer at June 8, 2005 04:23 AM

as a member of the online adult industry here are my thoughts...

from a practical standpoint :
it may actually be a good idea, as a sort of pro-active measure. that is, move any content that may, in any way, be considered risque to my associated .xxx domain. i'll keep the .com site, but link out all the images to the .xxx domain. that way little johnny, who's parent's have bothered to turn on .xxx filtering, won't see anything naughty. this will surely be a non-trivial operation but should be able to be accomplished.

from a legal standpoint :
it makes no never mind. if the federal government decides that i'm a bad man for offering porn and should be in jail, saying "but looky i'm on .xxx" isn't really going to help much.

from a financial standpoint :
the only people who will benefit from this is the registrar for the .xxx tld. of course, most online porn companies can easily absorb the cost of buying a separate domain, but why should we need to?

from a philosophical standpoint :
it could be said that the pornography industry is now getting preferential, or at least segregated treatment. i don't think any business sector should get that kind of treatment, for better or for worse.

from a cynical standpoint :
what about a tld for all the religious crusaders out there called .god? that way i can put a filter to ignore their rants.

Posted by: matt at June 9, 2005 02:11 PM