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Dot-xxx to be approved tomorrow

Category : Domain names, ICANN, Internet, Internet governance · by Jun 24th, 2010

The domain name system’s overseeing body, ICANN, will approve the controversial Internet extension dot-xxx, designed for online pornography, at its Board meeting tomorrow.

The pre-announcement came in an extraordinary statement read out at the start of the public forum at ICANN’s meeting in Brussels by the organization’s general counsel, John Jeffrey.

The statement said that the Board accepted the results of an independent review panel that the Board had made the wrong decision back in 2007 when it denied the application.

But then it went further to say it would approve dot-xxx, would enter into contract negotiations, and then refer that contract to the Governmental Advisory Committee to make sure they were happy with its contents, since they had raised concerns in the past.

The news caught the community by surprise, just as it was due to make its views known to the Board, but has so far been warmly welcomed by the community.

The decision should finally bring an end to five years of argument over dot-xxx that has threatened several times to descent into a lawsuit. Dot-xxx was originally just one of a number of “sponsored” top-level domain, and went through the usual evaluation steps, almost becoming a reality in 2005.

But then all hell broke loose. An adult industry organization in the United States, the Free Speech Coalition decided it wasn’t happy with the application, and then Christian groups also in the United States got on the bandwagon and used their honed lobbying skills to get all the way up to the White House and Bush administration. Public comment periods run by ICANN were swamped with comments, most complaining about pornography, and public forums were filled with conflict.

Amid a huge amount of lobbying, pressure and hushed conversation, the ICANN Board then decided to deny the dot-xxx application on the grounds that it hadn’t met its sponsorship requirement.

Needless to say, the dot-xxx applicant, ICM Registry, wasn’t very happy about the decision and filed an appeal through ICANN’s Independent Review Process. Two years later, the review panel stated quite clearly that the Board had made the wrong decision.

It was very unclear what the Board would actually do with that external criticism, especially when first the CEO and then the ICANN staff publicly pointed to options that would allow them to effective ignore the review panel’s conclusions.

But the statement made a day before the Board meeting where dot-xxx will now be approved appears to have put an end to what has been a damaging saga for the organization.

Of course ICM Registry and ICANN staff still need to thrash out a contract (it is already in its fourth iteration), and then Governmental Advisory Committee will have to give its consent, or at least not object to it. But at the moment these seem to be small hurdles (although I have to say I still don’t think there is any need to actually go to the GAC).

The really good news is, oddly enough, not that dot-xxx will be approved – it is, after all, just a top-level domain and there will be 500 of them coming next year. The good news is that ICANN’s Board has demonstrated clearly and precisely that it is willing to be held accountable and willing to overturn its own decisions when told it got them wrong. This is good news for the whole Internet.

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(10) comments

[...] staffer Kieren McCarthy is reporting that ICANN’s general counsel has spilled the beans on .xxx, saying ICANN will approve the new [...]

[...] that the Board had accepted the results of the independent review panel and thus would approve the .xxx TLD tomorrow. The board had delayed the decision until the 38th ICANN meeting in order to gather additional [...]

[...] that the Board had accepted the results of the independent review panel and thus would approve the .xxx TLD tomorrow. The board had delayed the decision until the 38th ICANN meeting in order to gather additional [...]

Eberhard
4 years ago ·

If the GAC should now consent to the introduction of .xxx, thus reneging on clear GAC statements at the 2005 Luxemburg ICANN meeting, it will have rendered itself all but obsolete and might as well simply decide to dissolve itself. Perhaps Janis Karklins doesn’t mind any longer, but still. I wouldn’t count on the GAC agreeing.

To summarize, I don’t think that there will be any .xxx in the root, never ever. Full stop.

Steve Goldstein
4 years ago ·

Kieren writes: “But then it went further to say it would approve dot-xxx, would enter into contract negotiations, and then refer that contract to the Governmental Advisory Committee to make sure they were happy with its contents, since they had raised concerns in the past.”

Steve comments: Sure, the GAC will be happy with this. And, pigs and cows will fly.

Christopher Ambler
4 years ago ·

Gee, I wonder if they’ll overturn their denial of .Web in 2000 based on a deliberate misrepresentation of our application in a (thankfully failed) attempt to grant it to an industry insider… no, probably not. Someone else will surely steal it next year, too.

kierenmccarthy
4 years ago ·

@Steve and Eberhard: Yes, you have to question the logic of asking the GAC to effectively approve a controversial domain when they can’t possibly agree. Some of them feel personally strongly against, yet their country has very clear laws that permit pornography; some are personally for but their country has equally clear laws; and every combination in between.

The GAC is certainly not going to be very happy to be asked anything about dot-xxx.

@Christopher: I thought there was some statement about prior applicants that you’d been given some kind of headstart in the new gTLD round if your application was in the prior rounds.

But yes the first round in 2000 was not exactly a model of efficiency and fairness.

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[...] staffer Kieren McCarthy is reporting that ICANN’s general counsel has spilled the beans on .xxx, saying ICANN will approve the new [...]

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