They could quite literally become the hottest domains on the planet if the internet governing body Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) give the go ahead tomorrow to a new  top level domain – the .xxx.

Back in 2005, ICANN gave the nod to the creation of the domain but two years later reversed that decision following large scale protest on moral grounds from conservative groups, mainly within the USA.

Now an independent review by the American Arbitration Association’s International Centre for Dispute Resolution has declared that decision unfair and has the issue back for re-consideration by the ICANN board at their meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

ICM Registry who put the plans forward for the .xxx domain and would oversee the sale of the addresses, suggest that if the go-ahead is given, the domain names could be on sale before the end of the year. However, ICANN is unlikely to make a snap decision and are expected to throw the issue back for consultation with its members and the internet community as a whole.

The .xxx domain proposal started long before ICANN’s first approval. Back in 2001 it was proposed as a way of filtering pornography on the internet with an immediate identifier of the content. Although any scheme would be voluntary – porn-sites could still be registered under other domains such as .com too – it might help to re-organise the internet and in particular search engines, becoming clogged by content that is less than family-friendly.

Ironically, the ICANN deliberation comes less than a week before – seen by many as one of the most valuable domain names in the world – comes up for auction in New York with a starting price of US$1 million. The domain was reportedly purchased for US$14 million back in 2006 by a group of private investors under the guise of Escom LLC but the company appears to have defaulted on the loan used to secure it, leading to the lender forcing sale.

Update (22 March): the future of any possible .xxx domain extension is still unclear, as ICANN elected to delay making any decision last week, and instead opted to produce a document outlining the proposals. It’s now likely the proposal will be voted on in June. More from the Telegraph.

What are your thoughts about a new .xxx domain?

Could it help clean up the internet?

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20 Responses

  • Andy

    It would only have its intended effect, if the .xxx was compulsary. To provide more logic to the net in regard to extensions this is a good idea. However in practice it never works until it becomes compulsary.

    March 25, 2010 at 5:46 pm
  • Desmond

    Could it help clean up the internet? Yes I think it could – though I’ll bet the nation’s moral guardians won’t see it that way. Expect a Daily Mail campaign to “ban this shameless filth” sometime soon. (ICANN will be cast as liberal PC do-gooders, and viewing xxx sites will be claimed to cause cancer.)

    March 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm
  • J. Warman

    I think its a fantastic idea, my children will be able to avoid seeing anything they dont want to by looking out for a simple xxx, they & I will know which sites are safe when researching homework etc.

    March 25, 2010 at 6:20 pm
  • Tom

    Great idea! I don’t understand what is immoral about making it much easier to filter out most x-rated websites, unless someone prefers the current blurred line, making their tracks easier to cover. And isn’t that really the immoral bit? For those of us who try to maintain an Internet filter for office systems, this ‘xxx’ TLD would make life a whole lot easier. And if people want to find ‘x-rated’ material at home, isn’t that their own choice? And better if it can be found in one place rather than everywhere?

    March 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm
  • Kevin Price

    Of course the decision is clear, it a go for the domain….it PC BS that is stopping it, without thinking it through.

    Do ‘they’ really think it better to have people accidentally stumbling on inappropriate websites….

    March 25, 2010 at 7:11 pm
  • Chris Gilbert

    I never understood the withdrawal of this idea before. I am not sure what the moral argument was – such websites already exist in great number, and having an xxx domain would hardly encourage viewing of pornography, because it would make it a great deal easier to write software to block access!

    At the moment, could easily be a pornographic site, but it’s not altogether clear from the domain itself. Instead, much more sophisticated filtering is required. An xxx domain makes it easy to block content, and to be honest, I see no reason why porn sites wouldn’t choose to use these domains anyway. Neither parents, nor the porn industry want children on their websites, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer really.

    March 25, 2010 at 7:19 pm
  • mike

    I think it would be very sensible to have a domain name “.xxx” It is a fact of life that many adults wish to get stumulation from watching images in private and this hurts nobody, indeed it permits them to dissipate their libido without harming others. The use of a separate domain name would make parental control easier and would orevent unintentional access. I would go further and break down .xxx into sub-domains classifying preferences such as hetero, gay, lesbian etc and providing levels for example soft, medium, hard etc. But it might be difficult to force domain owners to limit their activities to the “.xxx” domain.

    March 25, 2010 at 8:14 pm
  • Marian

    Does this have any impact on existing Domain names? If yes What does this mean for individuals and businesses that already have existing Domain names? Do they get an additional domain name/upgrade or what?

    March 25, 2010 at 8:48 pm
  • Tor

    It’s the right stuff to do. Browers can be easily set not to show perverted pics to kids.

    March 25, 2010 at 8:57 pm
  • Steve

    It won’t clean up the internet unless the relevant sites were forced onto it and had the other domains removed (with a fine or ban if they continued to use it). I would say it’ll make it easier to find porn, but it’s not difficult now as you only need to type key words into any search engine.
    A whole lot more than a new domain will be required to make the internet ‘cleaner’. Will we also be getting .ter for terrorist groups as well?! ;)

    March 25, 2010 at 9:28 pm
  • R G T

    It is a great idea and will make policing them easy for all concerned. Any sites without xxx can be immediately barred if they have adult content on them

    March 25, 2010 at 9:30 pm
  • Stephen Walker

    What is the point of the domain unless current adult websites are forced to use it and give up their current .com, etc?
    If they are not forced to give up or swap their current domains then you will simply have existing owners buying up their name as a .xxx simply for the sake of owning it even though it can be blocked.
    The additional problem is that any new adult businesses starting up would be stupid to use a .xxx as it can be easily filtered whereas their competitions websites cannot.

    Either has to be a mandatory swap of domain or there is no point whatsoever

    March 26, 2010 at 10:06 am
  • dougy

    i think having a domain for xxx only sites would be a fantastic idea, will keep parental control easier and keeps all our kids free from all the spam sites popping up when there browsing or searching for someting with keywords that are not directly related to xxx sites

    March 26, 2010 at 10:52 am
  • Nick

    Very good idea. Will make it easier to find for people who are looking for it and easier to avoid or block for those who aren’t.

    March 27, 2010 at 6:48 pm
  • Seth

    It is a great idea, i agree with Andy that idealy it would be compulsary for adult websites to use the .xxx domain however in practicality it would be impossible to police. I believe that it would be used by adult websites as the .xxx may help them promote their website. I can’t understand why it would be banned beacuse of US protest groups – it they don’t want to to acess the sites it would make it easier to avoid them.

    March 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm
  • redlightAmsterdam

    I agree with Andy that it should be compulsary, just like anti spam laws. But nobody needs a top level domain to make that possible because we have meta tags. If governments make the meta tag ‘content=adult’ or something like that compulsary by law, it creates the exact same effect as the .xxx TLD, only without the hunt for expensive domain names with this new extension.

    March 29, 2010 at 8:53 am
  • Nicky Goodyear

    I think the compulsary .xxx suffix is an excellent idea, my children and I have had some real shockers when searching for something quite innocent like theatre tickets and websites aimed at children.

    From a work point of view, it would enable me to block websites more easily.

    March 29, 2010 at 9:57 am
  • Jake

    Porn aimed at both men and women is just about sexual attraction and pleasure and isn’t dirty at all. Most of it is pretty immature, cretinous and poor quality, But there are sites that are mature, intelligent and genuinely about sexuality that I love.

    When I select strict filtering on google and search for a challenging word “lesbians” out of the 1st 10 results I get 2 porn links. Thats without any other filtering on my computer. I think the more intelligent filtering is the better so you can enjoy sexual content when you want to and not when you don’t :)

    March 30, 2010 at 9:39 am
  • Christopher

    Although this might be seen as creating an internet RED LIGHT DISTRICT I think that, properly managed, it would be useful. I think that it would need to be compulsory and that existing porn .coms would need to be transferred to .xxx and then shelved. There would be the usual ‘underground’ reaction from small groups using .coms for special interest porn etc but .xxx would create an identifiable standard that litigators might find useful.

    April 6, 2010 at 9:25 am
  • Jordan Russell

    I think it’s a great idea to have this domain extension and would have absolutely no negative feelings towards 123-reg if they sold it.

    However, I wouldn’t be pleased to find my shared hoisting accounts were on the same server/Ip as a ton of spammy xxx sites!

    July 8, 2010 at 3:43 pm