US & Canada

Sex domain .xxx given final approval by Icann

Paris sex shop
Image caption The .xxx will be a virtual red light district, and has generated years of debate

Internet overseer Icann has given final approval to the creation of an internet domain dedicated to pornography.

The move to create a top level ".xxx" domain - similar to ".com" and ".org" - ends a 10-year battle over the virtual red-light district.

Icann gave initial approval last year, but carried out further consultation checks over the application.

It is now poised to sign an agreement with the ICM Registry, which is backing the domain, to make .xxx a reality.

Supporters say the domain will make it easier to filter out inappropriate content.

But many pornographers worry that the move could ghettoise their content. Religious groups have argued that giving pornography sites their own domain legitimises the content.

Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, said in a draft paper ahead of approving the decision: "The Icann community has engaged in extensive debate as well, with this single issue generating higher volumes of community comment than nearly any other issue ever faced within Icann."

The organisation oversees the internet's addressing system and demands that new top level domains, such as .biz, must be "sponsored" in that they must serve the needs of a defined community.

ICM said last year that it had more than 110,000 pre-reservations for .xxx domains.

Initial approval for .xxx was given in 2005 but this was rescinded following protests from politically conservative groups. Icann also said it was worried that it would be asked to police content - a role it was not created for.

In February 2010, a panel of US judges said Icann erred in denying the approval of the domain.

Icann accepted that ruling and began a public consultation process on whether the domain should be approved.

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