Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Porn internet domain name 'dot.xxx' plan revived

By Jonathan Fildes
Technology reporter, BBC News

Soho sex shop
The scheme's backers say that it will allow people to filter adult content

A plan to create an internet domain specifically for adult websites will be resurrected three years after it was rejected by internet regulators.

The net's governing body Icann will reconsider the .xxx scheme on 12 March.

Icann had previously given the domain the go ahead in 2005, but reversed the decision two years later amidst protests from US conservative groups.

An independent review recently concluded that decision was unfair and that the plan should be reconsidered.

Icann (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has now confirmed to BBC News that its board will discuss the plan at its meeting in Nairobi, Kenya and could decide to back the proposals.

"If the contract is signed, we could be selling names by the end of the year," said Stuart Lawley, chairman of ICM Registry, which put forward the plans for .xxx and would sell the domain names.

'Landmark decision'

The idea for a .xxx domain was first proposed in 2001 and was approved by Icann four years later.

The scheme is intended to create a silo for pornography on the internet.

"Those that do want to see it can; those that don't can filter it out," explained Mr Lawley.

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However, the scheme is voluntary and adult sites will still be able to use other domains such as .com.

In 2007, Icann overturned its original decision to allow .xxx domains to be sold amidst a firestorm of protest from conservative groups, predominately in the US, which opposed the plan on moral grounds.

Recently an arbitration panel of retired judges at the International Centre for Dispute Resolution ruled that the plan should be revisited after analysing evidence about the alleged interference.

"Our claim was that Icann came up with a lot of different excuses," said Mr Lawley.

The board concluded that Icann's decision to reject the .xxx plan was "not consistent with the application of neutral, objective and fair documented policy" and should be revisited.

Mr Lawley described it as a "landmark" ruling.

The non-binding decision will now be discussed by Icann on 12 March and a decision will be made whether to reconsider its approach to .xxx.

A spokesperson for Icann said there was "no indication what action the ICANN board will take".

However, it is unlikely to overturn the decision immediately without consulting other members of Icann and the internet community.

The news comes as the sex.com domain, often described as one of the most valuable internet domain names, comes up for auction.

The web address is due to be sold in New York on 18 March with a starting price of $1m (£670,000).



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