Technology

Decision urged on .xxx porn web domain

A sex shop in Soho
Image caption Critics argue an .xxx will create a cyber red-light district

Moves to create a web domain for adult content have intensified with the group which has applied for the .xxx address demanding a decision on its fate.

Net regulator Icann (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) - the body which oversees web addresses - has been delaying its vote.

It gave the domain the go-ahead in 2005 but reversed the decision two years later.

Proponents says that having a .xxx domain will make the web safer.

"This has been a $7m dollar process, costing us $5m in legal fees and Icann $2m," said Stuart Lawley, chairman of ICM Registry, which has proposed the .xxx domain.

"Originally, the decision was politically driven but now for Icann... it is about not wanting to admit they were wrong."

A spokesperson for Icann said the body was a "global entity" and "actively seeks the comments of as many people as possible in our community, on important issues like this one".

Avoid content

The history of getting a specific adult entertainment web address has been a long and complicated one.

Initially, in 2005, it was approved but two years later Icann retracted the decision following protests from conservative groups. Icann said it was worried that it may have been asked to police content; something it said was not its job.

It also said that not everyone in the adult entertainment industry wanted such a domain.

In February of this year a panel of US judges ruled that its reasons for withdrawing the domain were not valid.

Icann accepted those findings and asked its general counsel to lay out the reasons for and against such a scheme. The process is open to public debate until 10 May.

An Icann spokesperson told BBC News that the public comments will be presented to the board on 12 June, but did not say when a decision on the fate of .xxx would be made.

Mr Lawley said he was getting increasingly frustrated with the process.

He argues that having a specific address for porn sites will make it easier for parents and others to block access to them.

"One of the requirements of anyone registering a .xxx domain is that the site carries meta-tags that will be automatically picked up by the popular browsers and allow people who want to avoid the content to easily do so," he told BBC News.

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