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Industry plan could put more porn on Web

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the behemoth that manages dot-com identification codes, again is reviewing whether to create a .xxx domain that would provide a specialized channel for pornography.

Word of the renewed review – the proposal has been rejected several times – is raising red flags for a number of organizations that deal with the impact of porn. They poin to the victimized children, women and men, and the crime that accompanies the chase for lewd images.

An alert from the American Family Association reminds its constituents that the plan previously was defeated through “overwhelming opposition in this country and abroad.”

Online public comment on the proposal is being accepted through May 10.

Pornography, which already floods the Internet, infects up to 80 percent of Internet traffic, according to some estimates. The figure comes from PKFamily.com, an Internet filtering company launched from the Christian men’s organization Promise Keepers.

The group also estimates 50 percent of teens say they have seen porn on the Internet. Seventy-nine percent of those teens did so from their school or library and 67 percent have seen it on their home computers. Twelve years is the average age for a child’s first exposure to pornography.

ICANN officials have created a review process for the plan, but critics say it is unlikely to have any impact except to expand pornography’s presence.

“Such a domain will increase the amount of p*rn on the Internet and make it more available to adults and children,” warned AFA. “ICANN would ask the p*rnographers to voluntarily move to the new .xxx domain which would contain nothing by p*rnography. There would be NO LAW TO FORCE THEM to the new domain.”

According to an explanation from ICANN, the review concerns ICANN’s denial of the .xxx domain which has been sought by ICM Registry.

The organization’s board ordered a report of “possible options” and a public comment period of “no less than 45 days.

The organization’s rules specify, “At the end of this public comment period, ICANN’s CEO and general counsel will review the comments submitted and prepare a summary analysis of the various submissions, to present to the board for consideration of the possible process options no later than ICANN’s 38th International Meeting in Brussels.”

According to the online site Porn Harms, the concept will allow a virtual flood of offensive images.

“The .com domain is a cash cow for pornographers and they are not leaving it. ICANN has no enforcement powers to make them leave and thus clean up .com,” the organization said. “Pornographers simply would expand to .xxx and maintain their current .com sites, perhaps doubling the number of porn sites and doubling their menace to society,” said an analsys by the group.

Nor would a .xxx domain make it easier to avoid the material.

“The problem with filtering is not that it is difficult but rather that too few parents care enough to employ filters for the home or laptop computers used by their children,” the analysis continued. The material also is available through schools and libraries, and adults are affected as well, the group said.

The problem goes further.

“Any law attempting to force pornographers to relocate to .xxx would likely be declared unconstitutional because under the First Amendment, all pornography is ‘presumptively protected’ by the U.S. Constitution until it has been determined to be ‘obscene’ or ‘child pornography,'” the analysis said.

Further, hardcore porn already is illegal; it just isn’t being addressed by prosecutors.

“It is just not being prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice because those in charge are letting the public down,” the analysis said.

The American Family Association said it is asking supporters to recommend Option 3, to adopt the findings of the dissent, which would halt the plan.

“For those who argue that by establishing a new .xxx domain AND then passing by a new law requiring porn companies to move (IF such a law was upheld after years of litigation) we can solve our Internet porn problem, we must ask why these two events will suddenly compel the department to begin prosecuting porn companies. If the Department of Justice is not prosecuting Internet porn companies now for violating U.S. obscenity laws, it is not going to prosecute such companies for merely locating in the wrong address,” AFA said.

Patrick Trueman, the former chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, who is working with the Porn Harms website, said the .xxx domain “should be killed and a stake driven through its heart so it never rises again.”

“Not one sound argument has been put forward for why the world needs more Internet pornography,” he said.

“What is needed instead of an .xxx domain is a war on pornography. The public should call a halt to widespread distribution of pornography because of the terrible harm such material is causing. There are four major harms from pornography: harm to children, violence against women, addiction, and increased sex trafficking,” he said.

Trueman said consumer comments about the plan also e-mailed to the organization.