Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adult Content Domain — .xxx — is on the Way

Last Friday (18 March 2011), the group that sets standards for Internet addresses approved the creation of domains that end in .xxx for "adult content."

We're all familiar with domains that end in .com, .net and .org. These domains encompass many of the companies and organization we know, such as nike.com, redcross.org, westport-news.com and others.

There has been a push for a number of years to put "adult content" — some interpret this to mean pornography — in a separate area of the Internet that lets people access it or not. Part of this push has been to create the .xxx domain.

The decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — ICANN — has prompted both positive and negative response.

Companies whose business is adult entertainment now have a location where they can place their products and services, and people who go to those locations would expect to see X-rated material.

Parents now have a domain they may choose to block from their families' access. Of course, there is nothing that requires adult content to use a .xxx web address, so there's no guarantee that people won't stumble onto adult content.

There's also no strict definition to what constitutes adult content. One person's PG-13 content may be someone else's XXX content.

I haven't yet seen any domain registrar's offering .xxx registrations, but I expect many people will reserve the .xxx domain simply so that it's not used by someone else for purposes not to their liking. For example, I would imagine that all Fortune 500 companies would reserve the .xxx domain to prevent inappropriate use of their trademarks.

My guess is that there still will be adult content all over the Internet, but for companies who create .xxx sites, there will be little doubt about the kind of content to be found there.

At a business or home, Internet access can be configured to allow or disallow access to .xxx sites. This should give people at least a slightly better chance to control access to inappropriate content than we currently have.

Mark Mathias, a 30-plus year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, Connecticut, was named by Computerworld magazine to their inaugural list of “Premier 100 IT Leaders.” This column was originally published in the Westport News on Wednesday 23 March 2011.

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