Sex Sites Easier To Find As .xxx Domain Created

Finding online sex sites just got easier as the governing body for internet domains, ICANN, agreed to the creation of a 22nd domain extension, .xxx. While some debate that the creation of the .xxx domain will provide greater business opportunities, others believe it will lead to censorship. Some believe it will lead to chaos.

In what the New York Daily News described as the creation of a "red light district for the web," ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) approved the application to add the internet domain ".xxx" to a list of "generic top level domains" already in existence. The move by the regulatory agency has sparked debate between its proponents, who claim the creation of the all-porn site will increase business opportunities, and several detractor factions, which say it allows for increased censorship. And there are others who think that it is only the opening of a door where hundreds of new domains will be created, leading to internet chaos.

The movement for the establishment of an adult only domain began in 2007 and was rejected several times. However, according to CNN, ICANN paved the way for the eventual creation of the porn domain back in June when it allowed the application for the top-level domain designation to go through. On Friday, March 18, the .xxx domain became valid and joined the 21 others -- like .com, .net, and .org -- already in existence.

Although there are those who see the .xxx as a wide-open business opportunity (and many moral advocacy groups see it as a wide-open user-friendly invitation for pornographic proliferation and ease of access), there are many who believe that it only adds pressure to register domain names, which is a lucrative business in and of itself. Others see it as a way to provide greater restrictions on content and business practices, something on which the Obama administration agrees -- and opposes, finding that there will most likely be censorship by various foreign governments.

Lawrence Strickling, head of Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said in a speech delivered to ICANN on Monday, "While some nations persist in proposing such measures as giving the International Telecommunication Union the authority to veto ICANN Board decisions, the United States is most assuredly opposed to establishing a governance structure for the Internet that would be managed and controlled by nation-states."

But that is only the beginning of what could lead to international Internet chaos, Nao Matsukata, senior policy adviser to the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, wrote in an Op-Ed piece on CNN. Not only does the establishment of the .xxx and other top-level domains (those suffixes seen at the end of Internet addresses) open the door to greater business opportunities, he notes that ICANN, which is partially controlled by members that stand to profit from the creation of new domain names. Matsukata also notes that ICANN, which has been rather diligent and stingy with its dispensation of top-level domains since its creation by the Clinton administration in 1998, has reversed field and has approved the application and the potential creation of over 400 new top-level domain suffixes.

Although Matsukata agrees that the creation of such a large number of domains will likely increase the innovation and business potential, it also sets up the potential creation of an Internet that could be damaging socially, economically, and have catastrophic security costs. For example, he suggests that the creation policy could substantially increase the amount of cybercrime, such as increased fraud. Such increased criminal activity could very well overwhelm security measures designed to combat the activity.

On a personal and social level, increased crime might increase costs of Internet security. The increase in domain names from which to choose could debilitate commerce in that the ensuing confusion of domain suffixes might lead to less dependence on the Internet business and less trust as users attempt to navigate the authentic and the fraudulent.

Matsukata wrote that the ultimate danger would be a breach of national security with the creation of so much extra cyberspace within which potential attackers could hide and strike.

While the debate rages on whether or not ICANN's creation of a separate .xxx domain was a sound regulatory move, adult industry website holders are under no obligation to obtain an .xxx domain name. However, if they so choose to branch out into the .xxx top-level domain, porn sites will be required to block spam and viruses.