.xxx

The International Centre For Dispute Resolution released a non-binding report on Friday, finding that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) should not have rejected [PDF] the ICM Registry’s request for registration of the .xxx domain.

Originally, after one initial rejection and following a re-filing some years later, ICANN had approved ICM’s request for the creation of the .xxx domain. The publicity generated by this decision resulted in a flood of submissions from governments world-wide protesting the decision, ICANN withdrew its previously issued approval. (Because, apparently, the web address of http://www.porn.xxx is less objectionable than http://www.porn.xxx? Go figure.) ICM then filed for review, resulting in the advisory decision that was just issued.

An informative summary of the events running up to the ICDR decision can be found here, but this section pretty much says it all:

Once ICANN voted on June 1, 2005 to approve the application ICANN, could not reverse itself.

All of the discussion, arguments of governments, including that of the US Department of Commerce needed to happen before the vote, not after.

Duh.

And because it’s a good example of the sort of objections states raised in response to the .xxx domain, here is the letter written by the U.S. Department of Commerce to ICANN back in 2005, two months after the initial, later revoked, approval:

I understand that the Board of Directors of (ICANN) is scheduled to consider approval of an agreement with the ICM Registry to operate the .xxx top level domain (TLD) on August 16, 2005. I am writing to urge the Board to ensure that the concerns of all members of the Internet community on this issue have been adequately heard and resolved before the Board takes action on this application.

Since the ICANN Board voted to negotiate a contract with ICM Registry for the .xxx TLD in June 2005, this issue has garnered widespread public attention and concern outside of the ICANN community. The Department of Commerce has received nearly 6000 letters and emails from individuals expressing concern about the impact of pornography on families and children and opposing the creation of a new top level domain devoted to adult content. We also understand that other countries have significant reservations regarding the creation of a .xxx TLD. I believe that ICANN has also received many of these concerned comments. The volume of correspondence opposed to the creation of a .xxx TLD is unprecedented. Given the extent of the negative reaction, I request that the Board will provide a proper process and adequate additional time for these concerns to be voiced and addressed before any additional action takes place on this issue.

-Susan

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