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It’s official: ICANN approves .xxx

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After years of debate, ICANN has finally given .xxx the go ahead. It will now be recognized as a top level domain and pornographic sites will retain their own customized URL signifier. According to the Washington Post, the vote was split and the final ruling actually contradicted the board’s Government Advisory Committee, which fought the action.

“We are disappointed that ICANN ignored the clear advice of governments worldwide, including the US. This decision goes against the global public interest, and it will open the door to more Internet blocking by governments and undermine the stability and security of the Internet,” assistant commerce secretary Lawrence Strickling said. Critics have long worried that the domain will cause conservative and censorship-prone nations to block .xxx sites, and purveyors of adult-themed material fear that the specific domain will separate porn from the rest of the Internet, giving it a certain stigma. Porn industry members are outraged, and one even announced during the meetings that the .xxx domain is “a very real threat to free speech and to my particular freedom simply because I want to create art in my own way.”

Despite any opposition, .xxx is on its way to your URL bar (don’t worry, we’re not judging). “In order to provide an orderly process for members of the registrant community and to use our resources effectively during this intervening period, ICM has decided to undertake the first phase of the Industry Reservation Period,” ICM Registry (the nonprofit group that has been backing .xxx for years now) has posted on its site.

According to ICANN, despite the disagreements and difficulties surrounding the .xxx debate, it has found resolution. “The Board is aware of the concern that the existence .xxx sTLD [sponsored top level domain] may facilitate the ability to use the string to block access to .xxx websites. However, the Board notes that if some blocking of XXX does occur there’s no evidence the results will be different from the blocking that already occurs, and the Board does not identify this as a risk to the overall security, stability or resiliency of the DNS.” In short, ICANN doesn’t think .xxx domains will lead to any more censorship than the Web is already subject to.