Wednesday, September 21, 2005

.xxx

The discussion of the .xxx domains and the 'responsible' pornographers seems to me the precursor to something like the Communications Decency Act being attempted again. So, follow this chain - we define that area over there to be for porn, and we handpick the people who get to go in there. Kid filtering software, etc, blocks .xxx. Then, definitionally, anyone who is providing porn but not on .xxx is 'irresponsible', and an easily targetable group. So, ban them - pornographers who aren't within the official hierarchy are trying to subvert filtering software and therefore are peddling porn to children. Then, impose more 'responsibility' restrictions on what is allowed in/to stay in .xxx, and you can effectively control 'porn' online.

Why that's bad... 'I know it when I see it', as was pointed out, depends a lot on who's doing the looking. At this point (at the end of the chain described), we have a clear deliniation between 'approved porn' and 'illegal porn', but the decisions about what gets allowed into the 'approved' category is difficult. Border cases (nude art, let's say to start with. further along, we'll end up with sex ed pages, etc) either have to classify themselves as 'pornography' and be roped into a corner and regulated, or run the risk of being nailed for being 'illegal'. Soon (in my paranoid vision), anything remotely edgy is either regulated porn, or illegal.

OK, a little over the top, and poorly thought through... Just some ideas.

1 Comments:

Blogger Sarai Mitnick said...

I don't think this is an immediate threat simply because, in practice, TLDs are unenforceable. .com, .net, and .org have all become pretty meaningless in terms of categorizing content. Anyone can buy one of these domains, and this probably won't change soon. In your scenario, I'm not sure who would prosecute pornographers with non-.xxx domains. The American government? What about sites originating in other countries?

But I agree that censorship is definitely a concern for how these will be used in the future, in this country and others.

There was a very interesting post on Joi Ito's blog when the TLD was approved. He's one of the members of the ICANN board. One of their rationales is that the domain is intended as a space on the internet for socially responsible adult-content sites to exist. I think they are attempting to acknowledge that adult content on the web exist, and that they can work together with other advocates in a socially responsible way. I really don't think the intention is to ghettoize pornography, though this could happen regardless of intentions.

(Nevertheless, I think the .xxx domain is stupid, and probably has more to do with dollars flowing to ICANN than they let on.)

3:56 PM  

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