For years there's been an ongoing argument over whether or not there should be an additional designated "red light" district for the internet, usually suggested to be under the .xxx domain. After years of debate, it was a bit surprising that ICANN actually allowed the domain. Very quickly, two different groups started fighting it. One was the group who fights every random extension of the top level domain system as being unnecessary and only designed to force companies to pay more for domains they absolutely don't need or want (which makes sense). However the other group fighting it, surprisingly, were a group of "family values" types who felt that somehow setting up a red light district online legitimized online porn. This seems like some strange thinking, as early on, many similarly minded people supported such a domain in an effort to block out online smut. However, whatever lobbying campaign they cooked up worked, and discussions over the .xxx domain were put on hold... until now. Apparently two senators are trying to get Congress to force through an online redlight district, even though we always thought it was ICANN's job (no matter how badly they might handle things). What's odd here, though, is that the Senators are saying such a top level domain would "confine adult sites to one location," and "prevent hapless Internet users from inadvertently stumbling onto sexually-explicit websites." That, of course, only makes sense if they were planning to force all adult content sites into this new domain -- something that just about everyone who's looked at the issue has decided is a bad idea. However, looking through some other articles, it appears that's exactly what the new bill is proposing. All adult sites would be required to move into this new domain. This opens up a ton of difficult questions. How would they fairly compensate sites with good .com domain names that they were forced to abandon? Much more importantly, how would they possibly define what qualifies as having to go behind the fence? Given the recent controversy over BoingBoing being blocked in many countries due to a widely used filtering program calling it out for "nudity," you have to wonder who gets to decide what has to go over to the .xxx side.
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