(Image: Flickr user SPakhrin under Creative Commons.)

So, the world’s first adult domain name extension is finally here. In a saga that’s gone on longer than the wait for a white iPhone, US authorities finally cleared the way for the creation of .xxx domain names in March this year.

Domains will initially become available in September (for trademark owners), but general availablility (when anyone can register a .xxx domain name) won’t arrive until December.

When we asked our customers if they wanted us to offer .xxx domain names for sale, over 70% of respondents said yes, so we’re planning to offer them for sale here, in due course. Watch this space.

Triple-X domains explained

The idea of .xxx is to provide a clear home for adult content on the internet. In theory, once every adult website is located at a .xxx address, it’ll be easy for people to find them (if that’s what they want), and easy for people to block them (if they don’t want to see them).

However, in practice the chance of all adult websites migrating to .xxx is minimal. That means .xxx is more about creating a safe environment where people can find adult websites without fear that those sites will contain malware.

Indeed, ICM, the company responsible for managing and controlling .xxx domain names, has teamed up with experts McAfee to check .xxx sites for security risks.

ICM also isn’t shy about the obvious business opportunities, talking of offering ‘micropayment opportunities’ for adult sites (presumably taking a slice for itself). It also has plans to create a search portal for .xxx sites. More details over on the ICM website.

But ICM seems keen to do business responsibly, and is giving $10 a year for every registered domain to the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR). This new, independent organisation will set some of the policies for the use of .xxx domains, focusing on privacy, security, free speech and child protection.

Anyone who registers a triple-X domain name will have to follow these policies. Of course, how effective they are will all depend on how well they’re policed.

Brand protection

So, what do .xxx domains mean for the rest of us? If you don’t have a direct interest in the adult entertainment industry, you’ll still need to be on your toes when .xxx domain names become available.

As with any other domain name extension, you might want to consider registering .xxx variations of your own domain name, to stop anyone else using them.

If you’re a trademark holder, you’ll be able to apply to block your trademarks being registered as .xxx domain names. If not, you’ll be able to pre-order .xxx domain names from our website, in due course.

Does sex sell?

There’s been a lot of controversy over .xxx domain names. The vote on whether to introduce them was tight, and – as you can imagine – there have been some strong discussions along the way.

It’s certainly true that .xxx isn’t just another domain name extension. The adult entertainment industry is always going to be a controversial one, and online there’s no doubt it has some murkier aspects.

ICM would claim that they’re doing their bit to help clean up this industry. Others would argue that it simply legitimises it. And there’s another view: that introducing .xxx makes it easier to block and censor people’s self-expression.

It’s not easy, is it? What do you think?

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