India has joined the Free Speech Coalition, the adult entertainment industry lobby group, by coming out publicly and saying they oppose the introduction of the .XXX sponsored Top Level Domain as pre-registrations are now approaching 520,000.
At the board meeting that concluded last week’s ICANN Silicon Valley San Francisco meeting, ICANN approved the controversial sTLD, which had been opposed by the FSC very publicly in the weeks preceding. Following its approval, the FSC commented that ICANN had ignored the advice of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).
Now India has voiced their disapproval saying they will block all .XXX domain names.
“India along with many other countries from the Middle East and Indonesia opposed the grant of the domain in the first place, and we would proceed to block the whole domain, as it goes against the IT Act and Indian laws,” said a senior official at the ministry of IT, reports the Indian Economic Times. “Though some people have said that segregation is better, and some countries allow it. But for other nations transmission and direct distribution of such content goes against their moral and culture.”
For .IN or .COM websites that contain the same content as a .XXX site, the official said that “for such cases the ministry would proceed on a case to case basis.”
However the position was criticised by the Internet Service Providers Association of India.
“Even cities allow red-light areas. The new domain would make parents and companies easily cordon off such domain access,” Internet Service Providers Association of India president Rajesh Chharia told the Economic Times. In India the paper notes that distribution of adult content is illegal, but watching it is legal.
“Though government can block the access to the .XXX sites altogether under law, but it will be easily challenged in court,” says Vivek Sood, cyber lawyer and author of ‘The Fundamental Right to the Internet’ . “The same content can be hosted in other domains like .com and .in and Section 67 of IT Act is actually a mockery in itself, he adds. “We as internet service providers will be easily able to provide software tools which can deny such domain access, which is not always possible for adult sites under .in or .com domain ,” Chharia of ISPAI adds.
However the Free Speech Coalition board chair, attorney Jeffrey Douglas disagrees with Sood’s point of view.
“Many important countries to the adult industry’s web business model are likely to block .XXX, including some major players in western Europe,” Douglas told AVN. “This will create extraordinary difficulties for companies that link to .XXX sites, or that have advertising rates based on traffic, because their customers won’t know whether the message that they’re paying to send is going to get to the places that they intend them to. At a minimum, it means that the links [to .XXX] will be dead links, which will make it difficult to measure traffic and other problems, but depending on how the countries go about blocking .XXX, it could have the impact of blocking the entirety of the site. The other difficulty is if, in complying with the proposed IFFOR guidelines, your .com has to mirror your .XXX, that can also result in problems for your .com in countries that block .XXX.”
But none of the controversy seems to hurt pre-registrations of .XXX domain names. Pre-registrations, which are not a requirement to register when .XXX becomes available, are now approaching 520,000. At the time of writing there were 517,570 pre-registrations.