Use of “7 Dirty Words” Now Allowed in .US

After intervention from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Harvard University Cyberlaw Clinic, it’s now possible to register .us domain names with the “seven dirty words”.

The change of course in policy by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the Department of Commerce, and Neustar, the .us registry, came about following the registration of the domain name by Jeremy Rubin.

According to a post by the Cyberlaw Clinic, Rubin created the website and registered the domain name in 2017 and began offering a “virtual lapel pin” that allowed Ethereum (a popular digital currency) users to support opposition to anti-semitic and white supremacist conduct in the United States around the time of the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia last year. The registration was initially allowed, but then it was abruptly terminated due to the word “fuck” in the domain name.

“After a lot of back and forth (and significant patience on Jeremy’s part)—the domain name is now (back) in Jeremy’s hands and the site is now (back) up and running. We are also pleased that this incident prompted re-evaluation of a policy and practice of the United States Department of Commerce with respect to the .us country code top level domain (ccTLD) that clearly violated the First Amendment.”

It appears that the NTIA and Neustar had a policy of using the Pacifica list of 7 dirty words that can’t be used when registering .us domain names and it appears there had been discussions under way for some time as to whether it was still appropriate to enforce the list.

The list of 7 dirty words are 7 English-language words that American comedian George Carlin first mentioned in 1972 in his monologue “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”, notes Wikipedia. The words are: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.

In 1973 Pacifica station WBAI broadcast a version of Carlin’s routine that led to a complaint by a member of Morality in Media. There followed a declaratory order by the Federal Communications Commission and appeals which led to the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 in 1978 that in the end formally established indecency regulation in American broadcasting. Which led to American broadcast networks “generally censor themselves with regard to many of the seven dirty words.” In 2010 “fleeting” use of expletives were ruled unconstitutionally vague by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York … as they violated the First Amendment due to their possible effects regarding free speech.”