Sunday, December 04, 2005

Puts Off

I am a believer in absolute free speech. However, at the same time I recognize the need that we keep certain forms of information sectored off, so that it can be kept out of the hands of children, and, so that those who do not wish to access it, have a choice in the matter.

For this reason, I have always thought the idea of a .xxx sector of the internet is the perfect solution to the creeping ooze of porn which is so all-pervasive in the .com sector.

But, ICANN has, once again, put off pulling the trigger on this excellent idea:

Plans to provide a domain name for adult-oriented online content were put on hold again by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ( ICANN).

Vint Cerf, the chairman of ICANN, said yesterday that the .xxx top-level domain issue had been removed from the agenda of an upcoming board meeting while the organization reviews the proposal further.

The news apparently came as a surprise to everyone, including Stuart Lawley, the president of the .xxx's sponsoring organization, ICM Registry, which has spent millions of dollars getting the bid this far.

Earlier this year in August, ICANN had postponed the approval process for .xxx, citing overwhelming public opposition to a porn-only section of the Internet. At that time, the U.S.
Commerce Department said it had received some 6,000 letters and e-mails protesting the move.

Use of .xxx would be voluntary for those who create adult content, but the creation of this kind of "red light" district is expected to create an impetus for many adult-site owners to migrate their Web sites to the domain.

Initially, the domain was proposed as a way for the online porn industry to follow a list of best practices, including strict measures against spamming. Currently, the Internet porn industry takes in $12 billion per year.

ICANN had endorsed the concept of an .xxx domain in June. Approval of ICM Registry's contract to run the suffix was supposed to be part of a routine vote.

Organizations, like Concerned Women for America, applauded the decision to postpone approval of the domain. "Creating an .xxx domain exclusively for pornographers would just be giving them a new platform to spread their smut," said Jan LaRue, CWA's chief counsel, in a statement. "Porn site operators are the only ones who stand to gain from having an .xxx domain."

But others say an adult-oriented domain would go a long way toward controlling the online porn industry. Parry Aftab of, a watchdog group focusing on children and Internet use that has lobbied for the new domain, said most or those opposed to it do not understand what it entails.

"We support this because it works," said Aftab. By helping regulate the e-commerce practices of the adult entertainment industry, identity theft and unintended access to adult content can be minimized, she noted.

In giving a voice to child-protection issues and parents' concerns by placing a child-safety advocate on the nonprofit oversight board, this top-level domain can be a big help to child protection, she added.

"This has already been approved by the ICANN board, demonstrating a belief in the domain's merit," Atfab went on to say. "We have supported .xxx from the beginning because it offers protections against child pornography and will help clean up the adult entertainment industry."

She suggested that the political pressure exerted by conservative groups interested in child protection issues was a knee-jerk reaction. "This protects families and kids to a greater level than laws on the books in the U.S.," said Aftab.

In many ways, the creation of a virtual red-light district will act like its real-life component by separating adult-themed material into its own section that can be policed accordingly, WiredSafety contends.

I think all pornography ought to be required to operate in the .xxx sector. That way it can be more easily isoltated by blocking software.

The thing is, we have to figure out how we're going to solve this dispute. Pornography is a fact of life, and it is something that hundreds of million, if not billions, of ordinary and decent people use on a regular basis.

The future will bring more and more melding of mind, computer and internet. At a certain point in the future, it is concievable, and I believe likely, that there will be little distinction between the human thought processes, and the internet itself.

Therefore, to limit free speech will be to little the thought life, and dreamlife of human beings. At that point, if governments attempting to limit access to information on the internet, they will be attempting to arbitrate the human soul itself. That is a violation of free will, and it is against God.

Another thing we need to consider is, where do we stop in trying to "make the world safe for children?" And if, in making the world safe for children, might we make the world dangerous for adults. The human brain is an organic complex, like the biosphere. If one eliminates a certain sector of the thought life does it detroy the balance of the human brain's biosphere?