We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

The web doesn't need the .xxx porn domain

PornographyAt what point would content become 'adult' enough for the proposed .xxx domain for pornographic websites? Let the Great Smut Debate begin.

The BBC has an interesting story about increasing pressure on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the international agency that oversees the net's address system, to decide on the proposed .xxx domain for adult content.

Icann has been mulling over the topic for several years now, alternately approving and rejecting a plan to restrict sexually explicit material to one domain. Proponents say the proposal would help users filter out porn; opponents say the plan would be too difficult to enforce, and that it would raise free-speech concerns.

Personally, I hope Icann buries the .xxx proposal once and for all. A smut-specific domain might make it easier for schools, libraries and parents to keep kids from adult material online. But then again, what to stop porn purveyors from using another domain?

And will there be an International Smut Police that surfs the web for offenders?

The net nanny state

Imagine an international standards body wrestling with the same content-approval headaches facing Apple, which has adopted the role of net nanny for its App Store. I suspect that Steve Jobs' staff has found this a thankless chore, one that pleases no one. Just last week a watchdog group griped that there's still too much smut in the App Store, despite Apple's efforts to purge most sex-related content from its online shop.

Icann's role as smut cop would be a disaster. At what point would content become 'adult' enough for the .xxx domain? Would the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue quality as porn? Most of us would agree that it doesn't. But many web users, both domestic and international, would certainly see things differently.

And could the web's porn police monitor the entire internet? Of course not.

In reality, there wouldn't be any smut cops. The .xxx domain would simply open shop, and the sex industry would be free to do business there.

It's a safe bet that many inhabitants of the porn underworld aren't exactly reputable types. Chances are that many would ignore the rules and shun the .xxx ghetto. And even if they did do business there, they might very well keep their .com domains to lure more customers who can't access the smut domain.

My suggestion: keep things as they are. Libraries, schools and parents can do what they do now: enforce a no-porn policy. But the .xxx backers' goal - limiting the web's smut to what amounts to a very large red-light district, leaving the rest of the internet porn-free – simply isn't going to happen.

See also:

Watchdog criticises Apple sex apps

Icann rejects '.xxx' sex domain name – again

12 ways porn shaped the internet

PC World

IDG UK Sites

Black Friday 2014 tech deals UK Live: Best Black Friday deals from Apple, Amazon, Argos, eBay,...

IDG UK Sites

Black Friday feeding frenzy infects the UK

IDG UK Sites

VAT MOSS: Will I be affected by the EU VAT changes? Here are the facts for designers and artists

IDG UK Sites

Black Friday 2014 UK: Apple deals, Amazon deals & Black Friday tech offers