Adult domains have been around since time immemorial. Fine, I’m exaggerating. It’s been around only since the ‘public’ (non-military) internet was born. In fact, adult domaining is popular and it predates, by many years, general domaining. Adult domaining has always been pervasive, and it brought in the cash in great wads.
But is adult domaining legal?
Well, let’s just say adult domaining is not illegal – or, at least, I haven’t seen or heard anything to suggest it is illegal. In fact, it is a legitimate niche in the domaining industry; legitimacy, after all, can be based on tradition and long practice, and adult domaining is a well-established domaining sector. Online pornography – which adult domaining generally go hand in hand with – is generally frowned upon but tolerated. What constitutes pornography also varies from place to place. Adult domains that go with adult dating sites, however, have greater acceptance.
Adult domaining, moreover, is largely unregulated and non-formalized. Adult domains are treated similarly to other types of domains under ICANN rules. Adult domainers abide by the rules of the operators (domain registry) that administer to their domain extension – sex.com has to comply with Verisign Global Registry Services’ rules whereas sex.biz has to follow NeuStar Inc.
Speaking of domain extensions, do you think ICANN should approve a distinct top-level domain for sexually explicit content?
The .xxx extension is a pretty intuitive domain extension for adult content sites. Right now, this domain extension can be procured through the New.net registrar. New.net is not an ICANN-accredited registrar. The .xxx domains, moreover, are also unofficial and can be accessed only through New.net’s alternative DNS root. Sites using a domain with a dot triple extension are also not readily available to everyone; special client software or adding New.net to the URL is required.
Some believe that a distinct TLD for adult sites is a great option, especially for parents who can simply block .xxx domains from loading instead of relying on content-filtering parental controls. However, there are also concerns that giving adult domains the .xxx extension will create a bad image for the adult domaining in general.
ICANN is dragging its feet on the issue. So far, the proposal to use the .xxx top-level domain extension has been presented to ICANN three times, and in all cases, it failed to get approval.