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Independent Review Finds ICANN Screwed Up In Approving... Then Rejecting .xxx

from the who-did-what-now? dept

If you haven't followed the .xxx saga, it's been a bit convoluted. While it's still not at all clear why we need top level domains at all any more (or, if we must have them, why they should be limited to the ones chosen by ICANN), for many years, ICANN has been in charge of reviewing various proposals to expand the available top level domains (things like .com, .net, .org, etc.). That's how we got other such useless TLDs like .info, .jobs and .mobi -- which have mostly just turned into money grabs for the companies that operate them, rather than anything that was really needed. .xxx is the same story. Obviously, it's a huge money grab, because whoever would operate it would stand to rake in the cash from porn operators looking to set up new sites. While ICANN initially rejected the proposal at the beginning of the decade, the guy behind .xxx tried again, and in 2005, ICANN agreed that .xxx met all the criteria and should be allowed.

So why doesn't the internet yet have this official redlight district?

Well, what really happened was that "protect the children"-type family groups freaked out about admitting to the fact that (gasp!) porn exists on the internet. Amusingly, some of those same groups and their favorite politicians had pushed for .xxx anyway, in an effort to force all porn to be located there. But, for some reason, after .xxx was approved, they suddenly freaked out that this somehow meant porn was okay, and started causing trouble. Suddenly, months after ICANN had already approved .xxx, the federal government (under whose umbrella ICANN kinda-sorta belonged) suggested rather strongly that .xxx was not a good idea. Suddenly, everything was put on hold, and in 2007, ICANN officially said no to .xxx.

This infuriated the folks behind .xxx, a group called ICM, and they asked for an independent dispute resolution, which was released last Friday. So, after all these many years, the review found that ICANN totally screwed up, and it never should have backed down after its 2005 approval of .xxx. It's also demanding that ICANN pay up for this review process, in the range of half a million dollars. Of course, the ruling is non-binding, so it doesn't necessarily mean that ICANN now does need to approve .xxx, but it makes it harder to explain why it hasn't. Also complicating matters is ICANN's more recent decision to let pretty much anyone with a ton of cash to throw away create their own TLD. So, perhaps the .xxx guys can just do that...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:15pm

    I always thought that creating a TLD of ".kids" that ONLY kid-friendly sites would be allowed on would be a much better alternative to creating ".xxx" and forcing all porn sites to move.

    And then that way, parents could only allow their young children to view sites that end in ".kids", knowing there was an oversight body making sure that all sites using a ".kids" domain would be child appropriate.

    Creating a virtual Red Light District with ".xxx" is just stupid and unenforceable.

     

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  2.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:18pm

    Re: .kids

    ...and the .kids one isn't "just stupid and unenforceable"?

     

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  3.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re: .kids

    No, it's not.

    Because, to tell ALL porn sites that they are no longer allowed to use .com, .net, .org and that they HAVE to use .xxx is unenforceable because where do you draw the line at what's appropriate for general use and what's classified as porn and needs to be moved to .xxx? Is sexually suggestive but fully clothed photos ok? Are bare breasts on a breast cancer site ok? What about all the various country TLDs like .tv, .us, .uk that have their own governing bodies? Is every country going to restrict porn sites turning away money?

    On the other hand, with a .kids domain, there's one oversight body (every TLD has an organization in charge of it) that can spell out exactly what the rules are for companies registering domains within their TLD. So, the oversight body for .kids can spell out what it considers kid safe and ONLY approve sites that adhere to their policies and can remove sites that don't. It is entirely enforceable.

    It's tackling the same problem from the other direction. Instead of making the vast wilderness of the Internet kid safe, make a walled garden for them.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Re: .kids

    The idea of .xxx was that porn sites would only exist there, and not on .com anymore. With a .kids, I don't think there will be any outrage with kids sites operating on .com

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: .kids

    Easier to enforce than .xxx
    To enforce .xxx, you have to go through every existing website, and force any with adult content of any kind to move to .xxx. Not only is this unfair to operators of those websites (especially those who have built up a brand), but how do you define "adult content"? You could end up moving 90%+ of the internet to .xxx. And many of the "bad" sites will be overlooked.

    With the .kids domain, you start with a blank slate, and only those sites that want to submit to a stringent review need to apply. The board overseeing .kids domains could check up on the site, and only allow those it believes upholds its standards. A second review process can handle complaints over sites after they have been accepted. It will be a much smaller collection of sites to oversee, and there is no problem of forcing sites that don't want to change.

    When you come down to it, it's essentially the difference between having a whitelist and a blacklist. .xxx is a blacklist; it'll be almost impossible to catch all the bad sites. .kids is a whitelist, although you might lose access to alot of good information, you can almost guarantee that nothing objectionable will get through.

     

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  6.  
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    OldGeek, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    Actually it's Simple

    With porn sites wanting more audience, .xxx would make it a lot easier to find, hence most porn sites would move rather swiftly. As for the .kids, you can only imagine how fast the rates would skyrocket. It wouldn't take long before the .kids wouldn't be affordable.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    Either way is unenforceable for the same reasons. All the porn, hard to move, blah blah blah. Well, same for kid sites. There are many kid sites that are on .com, .net, etc, etc. All this talk is 20 years to late.

    It's like shutting the barn doors after the cows have gotten out when you are trying to keep them in.

     

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  8.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re:

    Kids sites don't have to move. FoxKids.com and Fox.kids can point to the same site. I don't think most people would have a problem with children sites on a .com domain as they would with having porn sites on .com if they were supposed to be on .xxx.

     

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  9.  
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    Rendarkin, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    We Can't Always Agree Across The World...

    "you can almost guarantee that nothing objectionable will get through"

    Nonsense. We can set some common denominator of what's appropriate for kids for a given country, say, but even then various groups will ALWAYS find something objectionable.

    And if .kids is a global domain, then the disagreements over what's "proper" for it are going to be far from simple to resolve.

     

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  10.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Actually it's Simple

    "As for the .kids, you can only imagine how fast the rates would skyrocket. It wouldn't take long before the .kids wouldn't be affordable."

    That doesn't make sense. Why would a company make their product unaffordable? The point would be to get as many kid-centric sites on-board, because then the whole ecosystem becomes more valuable. The value of the .kids domain would be the amount of kid-centric sites are in the walled garden. Pricing it so that it was unaffordable would reduce the value of the whole TLD, which would only be something someone in the entertainment industry would think was a good idea.

     

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  11.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:55pm

    Re: We Can't Always Agree Across The World...

    Well, .kids wouldn't be global from a management point of view. There would be a single company in charge of it, and it would be their discretion as to what's "proper". And if parents think they're too lenient with it, then they don't have to let their kids use the Internet at all, because the rest of it will be far more "adult" even if there is a .xxx TLD for "porn" sites.

     

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  12.  
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    Ryan, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Actually it's Simple

    With porn sites wanting more audience, .xxx would make it a lot easier to find, hence most porn sites would move rather swiftly.

    Because it's so hard to find porn on the internet right now. And for a site that's built a clientele that knows to go to xyz.com, how does it make them easier to find by suddenly selling that domain name and moving to xyz.xxx? Do we allow them to redirect traffic, which completely defeats the purpose, asinine as it already was?

    As for the .kids, you can only imagine how fast the rates would skyrocket. It wouldn't take long before the .kids wouldn't be affordable.

    Why would rates skyrocket? It's not like there's a limited supply of available domains(despite the efforts of record labels to construct digital scarcities where there are none). As long as ICANN isn't allowed to deny entry based on fees, it'd be about as the internet is now except with a review process based on content.

    Even better would be if certain entities could purchase domain names and then provide the whitelist service privately, so that it couldn't be hijacked by political interference and regulatory capture.

     

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  13.  
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    Richard Corsale (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: .kids

    "where do you draw the line at what's appropriate for general use and what's classified as porn"

    At the keyboard?

     

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  14.  
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    Ryan, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    .kids confusion

    The OP stated:

    On the other hand, with a .kids domain, there's one oversight body (every TLD has an organization in charge of it) that can spell out exactly what the rules are for companies registering domains within their TLD. So, the oversight body for .kids can spell out what it considers kid safe and ONLY approve sites that adhere to their policies and can remove sites that don't. It is entirely enforceable.

    I took this to mean that each domain had an organization established or given power by ICANN/the government to do this, but a lot of posters are speaking as if each private organization that currently owned a TLD would have at their discretion to do what they wanted with it. The latter would be much preferable, obviously, but is that actually what was being proposed publicly or is the whole discussion just a good suggestion that the OP pulled out of his ass?

     

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  15.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: .kids

    The idea of .xxx was that porn sites would only exist there, and not on .com anymore. With a .kids, I don't think there will be any outrage with kids sites operating on .com

    No, the proposal for .xxx did not include forcing sites to go there.

     

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  16.  
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    Ryan, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re: Actually it's Simple

    And actually, all this already exists and can be utilized by any parent that wants to limit a browser to only accessing approved websites. The problem is that most parents, to some conservative groups' chagrin, either are too lazy or don't care to use them(see: tv/video game/movie ratings). None of this is needed at all, but is instead part of a constant crusade against "sinful" activities that family groups undertake to achieve money, power, and influence.

    If porn sites want to voluntarily use a .xxx TLD or some business wants to provide a .kids, then let them. But even I almost got suckered into thinking this is actually a problem just now, when the whole thing is pretty pointless.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: .kids

    When the hand leaves the keyboard it's porn

     

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  18.  
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    Spanky, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    re

    As I heard it, the porn folks wanted the .xxx domain, so they probably wouldn't have to be forced to go there.

    Being sequestered in their own TLD would mean they would be much easier to block -- so the anti-porn folks would be much less likely to complain about porn -- so the porn industry could go on without much resistence.

    A .xxx domain would be much easier to deal with than .kids. Easier to put the stuff you don't want kids to see into one place rather than vice versa.

     

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  19.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    Re: .kids confusion

    No, TLD oversight bodies do have the right to dictate how their TLDs are used. This is already in place and has always been. ICANN simply controls most of the original TLDs like .com, .net, and .org. Most of the country TLDs are controlled by those countries' governments.

    Such as, country level TLDs such as .uk, .us, and .tv all have different rules on who can get a domain with them.

    With .uk, you HAVE to be in some way related to the UK to get it. If you live & work in the US with absolutely no ties to the UK, you aren't going to get a .uk domain.

    With .tv, the TLD for Tuvalu, they are much more lax and sell domains to whomever wants one. They use their fortunate TLD to make money for their small island country.

    Then there's country TLDs that give out free domains, but you have to have ads on your site for them. I forget the country that used to this, but I had a domain with them at one point for testing.

    So, each TLD has a governing body that dictates the rules that people can get a domain with them. Most of them are open, some are closed, others have specific rules.

    It used to be that .net was for ISPs and .org was for non-profits. But those rules were relaxed a long time ago.

     

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  20.  
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    Jeff, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:18pm

    Pros and Cons

    Porn on the net is here to stay. Yeah you can try to restrict it, you can try to ban it, but it's such a huge part of the cash coming in that keeps the internet going. So don't expect it to just go away because you don't want it there.
    Now let see, create ".xxx" for the industry, and for use of that industry exclusively? What's the problem? It goes both ways. All the nanny filters can block .xxx and keep the kiddos that don't know how to circumvent it from going there. And for the industry it's a plus too. "Ok we have our site(s) on .xxx now and if you don't block it, then it's your own fault"
    And as far as the "moving our site to .xxx, but it's known for .com? Any web publisher with common sense knows you can put up the new site, and use redirects that automatically send the viewer to the new site and lets the search engines know that it's moving there, and to change it's listings. Soon the .com, .net, etc... traffic is going to be dead and you can keep the .xxx only.
    And after a while, when those .com, .net and such that arn't a porn sounding name are freed up, you can turn around and sell them to someone else that can use them for non-porn related internet.
    Now bear in mind this all won't happen over night, and I'm sure many many porn sites out there will not move, or will keep both. But eventually the govt, or domain name providers could start weeding them out if that's their plan.
    I would vote to allow the .xxx. The porn industry on the web isn't going to go away. And if you can help it to have it's own area that is recognizably porn, then you can put up the walls to keep your young ones, or you citizens out of that area even easier.

     

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  21.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:19pm

    Re: re

    "A .xxx domain would be much easier to deal with than .kids. Easier to put the stuff you don't want kids to see into one place rather than vice versa."

    I disagree with this statement 100%.

    It's easier to put only stuff you want kids to see in one place, and keep them out of the other areas ... than cleaning out the entire world and sticking everything you don't like in a box.

     

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  22.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: Actually it's Simple

    No company would be making their product unaffordable in the sense you are thinking. I think you misunderstand what is meant by the .kids not being affordable... I think what is meant is that people will buy up the .kids domains and charge outrageous sums of money for the legitimate businesses to buy the domains, therefore making it an unattractive option, and leaving the kids out... All it takes is for someone to be sitting at home going through nick.kids, disney.kids, nickjr.kids, etc, etc, etc... and then turning around when Nickelodeon or Disney want to set up kid friendly sites, so parents can put their kids in a garden, and charging a million bucks for that domain they just registered for $9.99 a year... That's the problem that would keep companies from putting up .kids sites...

     

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  23.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Pros and Cons

    BreastCancerAwareness.xxx ... because nipples are destroying the world.

     

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  24.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Actually it's Simple

    "I think what is meant is that people will buy up the .kids domains and charge outrageous sums of money for the legitimate businesses to buy the domains"

    Considering that a company would likely have to have a site for review before their use was approved (because you'd have to approve it as kid-friendly before selling them a domain and letting them go live), it's unlikely someone could park a lot of domains without having a kid-friendly site.

    And besides, it would be no different than the other TLDs in terms of name disputes.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: .kids

    Instead why not create a browser feature that allows only a certain set of websites. Each person according to their child's age (and probably prudiness) can download an allowed list and lock it into the browser.

    Just like the disallowed list you download from google or other source.

     

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  26.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: .kids

    Because it's way too easy to bypass software locks. A TLD filter wouldn't require to constantly update a whitelist on client machines, and traffic could easily be filtered at the DNS/router/firewall level of a home network without needing it to update whitelists.

    If it's a .kids domain, it's in the whitelist. That's a single, simple router rule that can limit specific computers that can't be cracked as easily as a desktop software solution.

     

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  27.  
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    dsk, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 4:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: .kids

    You can tell its porn because a dick is a dick.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 5:12pm

    Re:

    I always thought that creating a TLD of ".kids" that ONLY kid-friendly sites would be allowed on would be a much better alternative...

    How many kids, especially teens, do you think would be satisfied with being restricted to only ".kids" domains? Not many, I suspect.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 5:18pm

    Re: Re: We Can't Always Agree Across The World...

    Well, .kids wouldn't be global from a management point of view. There would be a single company in charge of it, and it would be their discretion as to what's "proper".

    Will it ban sites that discuss evolution? That's offensive to some fundamentalist Christian parents. And speaking of Christian, how about bible sites? Those are offensive to some Muslim parents. And so on...

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 5:21pm

    Re: re

    A .xxx domain would be much easier to deal with than .kids. Easier to put the stuff you don't want kids to see into one place rather than vice versa.

    Umm, porn isn't the only thing people don't want their kids exposed to, so how would ".xxx" accomplish that?

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: .kids

    You can tell its porn because a dick is a dick.

    So, you're saying any depiction of a penis is pornographic?

     

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  32.  
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    Drew Farkas (profile), Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 5:37pm

    Comment #30...

    I know I'm just adding to the noise at this point, but my humble opinion (as a fundamentalist Christian who hates Internet whitelists), is that if there were a .kids TLD, it would be about 5% beneficial (as in, I seriously do not see much benefit at all, as censoring is always errant and flawed, and restricting a child's use to only .kids sites would be too restrictive to be worthwhile), but I find .xxx to be a terrific idea. Of course it wouldn't be practical to claim that all the porn in the world is locked behind that TLD -- but if just 5% was, you could quickly and easily block a computer from that 5% without any risk of loosing anything that's actually worth keeping. And without a single whitelist.
    ~just my $.02

     

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  33.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 5:42am

    Jurisdictions

    > politicians had pushed for .xxx anyway, in an effort to force
    > all porn to be located there

    Once again, we run into the issue of jurisdiction. Even if adopted, how could the US federal government force all porn into this domain. What are they going to do if some guy in Romania or Madagascar puts up a porn site under .com?

    And what constitutes porn? Whose definition do we use? Some people define porn has hard-core sex. Other uptight Focus-on-the-Family types think even stuff on prime-time network TV is porn-- stuff that doesn't even have nudity.

     

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  34.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: .kids

    Obviously not. Because a dick is a dick. A picture of a dick is not a dick, so thus not porn.

    "dsk" must be saying that only actual body parts are off limits. Thus, as long as your actual penis is not on the Internet then it's not porn, thus there is no porn on the Internet. The Internet is now kid-safe.

    He spelled it out so plainly and simply, it makes everything easierĀ”

     

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  35.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: Re: We Can't Always Agree Across The World...

    That would be up to the oversight organization that takes on the responsibility of managing the .kids domain.

     

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  36.  
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    Crushit, Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Re: .kids

    So what is your age group for kids. A xxx domain is easier to filter then asking people to filter what should go on a kids sight."Are bare breasts on a breast cancer site ok" Yes. If you have to ask that question, then you have a problem and a kids domain would protect you from yourself. It sounds like you never went to school so of course if other kids had home work, your suggesting they go to a kids domain. Give your head a shake, I suppose their is going to be a KIDS GOOGLE also, riiiggghhhttt.

     

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