ICANN approves creation of internet red light district

The Internet Corporation for Assigned names and Numbers (ICANN) has given its approval to a .xxx top-level domain. Before you all rush off at once, it won’t go into operation until later this year.

It’s taken ICM Registry six years to get this far. Chairman Stuart Lawley commented: “It’s been a long time coming, but I’m excited about the fact that .xxx will soon become a reality. This is great news.”

The .xxx domains are expected to go live by the start of 2011 at the latest. ICM Registry says it already has 110,000 pre-reservations, and expects that number to shoot up now that ICANN’s formally approved the application.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the move has won the support of many family charities as it would, in theory, corral all the mucky content into one, easily-fenced area. In a 2007 poll, 61 percent of respondents agreed that a .xxx domain would make it easier to keep kids away from porn.

But it’s taken ICM an awfully long time to get this far. A .xxx domain was first mooted in 2004, and was approved by ICANN in June 2005. ICM and ICANN worked together for two years on the proposal.

But when religious and other organizations started lobbying against the new domain in 2007, ICANN got cold feet and canned the whole idea. Earlier this year, though, an independent panel of jurists decided in ICM Registry’s favour, saying that ICANN’s decision was against its own rules as well as local and international law.