New .XXX Domain Name Rightly Isolates Adult Content on the Internet

Vatican representatives were pleased recently to learn that the domain name Vatican.xxx was banned from public purchase and incapable of being fashioned into a porn site when the internet domain extension .xxx, became available for public purchase in early December. While rumors circulated that Vatican.xxx was purchased, and not by the Vatican, the domain name is permanently blocked from sale. Once this scandal subsided, a more positive buzz emerged, highlighting the benefits of the .xxx extension.

The .xxx domain extension was approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) last year and aims to properly organize and manage pornographic content on the web. Although the decision to make .xxx a top domain level was controversial, its acceptance is a progressive step in separating porn from the .com world, easily blocking adult content from children, and ensuring virus protection on adult entertainment websites.

On December 6 the internet domain extension .xxx joined the ranks of .com and .org by becoming available for public purchase and causing an extreme increase in domain name registration – for both use and protection. In fact, over 100,000 new domain names were launched within hours of public access. While religious groups, celebrities and political figures, and educational institutions panicked to block their names, they needn’t worry. Many prominent organizations, such as the Vatican, and prestigious figures, such as Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, were blocked from purchase, safely listed on a permanent registry, and infinitely protected from future use as a porn site. 

Besides the initial worries of name protection, the approval of the .xxx as a top domain has many benefits. For starters, ICANN’s approval acknowledges the huge online presence of adult content and attempts to organize the content in a responsible manner by isolating it to its own domain. This step, although currently voluntary for adult entertainment website owners, is significant as it lends extra credibility to the industry.  

For example, the .xxx domain ensures that users are fully aware of the site content in advance. All .xxx sites will include a MetaCert electronic Family Safety label, making it easy for parents and schools to restrict .xxx websites and block pornographic content from children and minors. Within hours of the public sale, over 250 million pages were appropriately labeled. 

Additionally, all .xxx sites will receive daily scanning from McAfee, an anti-virus software, to ensure the sites stay virus free. This is huge for website owners and users alike and offers both groups added protection against malware. The use of McAfee software is expected to generate more business on the .xxx domain, helping to increase the separation of adult entertainment websites from other domains. 

While some criticize the move as a money making scheme, forcing organizations and companies to purchase rights to their names on the new domain to ensure their protection from use as a porn site, the benefits in isolating adult content are too great. In fact, ICANN’s approval of the .xxx domain proactively recognizes and addresses the increasing presence and use of online porn. 

Photo Credit: Michiel020

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Gina Barbone

Gina recently completed a M.A. in International Relations at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Academically, she focused on Middle Eastern studies, conflict resolution, and security studies. She hopes to pursue an international career and is interested in journalism, human rights issues, and global development. Gina absolutely loves traveling and has spent time living abroad in Beirut and Rome. She is a huge Harry Potter fan and can't believe the series has ended!

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