Dot-XXX Domain for Adult-Content Websites Wins Approval Despite Opposition

The .xxx domain for adult-content websites was approved for use today, overcoming opposition from porn stars and publisher Hustler, which said the move would make them susceptible to censorship.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the group that manages Web addresses worldwide, gave the green light to the .xxx domain at a meeting in San Francisco. While the address isn’t mandated for adult content, a flurry of sites are expected to register their brands to prevent them from being stolen.

ICM Registry proposed the .xxx change and will sell addresses to website owners for $60 annually, said Chief Executive Officer Stuart Lawley. He said tens of thousands have already applied to reserve more than 200,000 domain names, and London-based advertising firm M&C Saatchi will begin a campaign to promote it.

“For the first time, there will be a clearly defined Web address for adult entertainment, out of the reach of minors and as free as possible from fraud or malicious computer viruses,” Lawley said in a statement.

Porn stars and businesses including Vivid Entertainment LLC -- the company behind sex tapes of Paris Hilton and reality TV stars Kendra Wilkinson and Kim Kardashian -- have said .xxx would create an online ghetto, opening the industry to future regulation. Lawley said the domain would give parents more control and allow Internet users to filter unwanted material.

Independence Threatened

The Free Speech Coalition, an adult-industry trade association with more than 1,000 members, held a news conference this week to argue against .xxx’s endorsement, saying ICM is only looking to make money and the domain threatens the industry’s independence. The approval also drew condemnation from the U.S. Commerce Department.

“This decision goes against the global public interest, and it will open the door to more Internet blocking by governments,” Lawrence Strickling, assistant secretary for communications and information, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are skeptical that the addition of the new .xxx domain will provide any additional protection for children; rather, it is likely to encourage confusion globally.”

Lawley had said Jupiter, Florida-based ICM could earn $200 million a year from .xxx and he’s planning a “PayPal for porn” online system that could handle $1 billion a year in transactions.

The .xxx domain will likely be live by September, Lawley said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristen Schweizer in London at kschweizer1@bloomberg.net; Joseph Galante in San Francisco at jgalante3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vidya Root at vroot@bloomberg.net.

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