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.xxx registry sues US government 225

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the start-your-moaning dept.
An anonymous reader writes in to say that "ICM Registry LLC, the company behind the proposed .xxx internet porn domain, is to sue two departments of the US government for access to documents it claims show the US pressured ICANN into rejecting the domain. The Florida-based startup will sue the Department of Commerce and the Department of State to get them to release documents that they redacted when they responded to a Freedom Of Information Act request that ICM filed last year."
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.xxx registry sues US government

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  • by yobjob (942868) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:01AM (#15375502)
    ...xxx screws YOU!
    • In the end... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by taskforce (866056) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:19AM (#15375542) Homepage
      In the end I think that the domain was rejected becuase it recieved little support from either political disposition.

      Libertarians rejected the domain beucase it would make porn easier to block, and Christian Moralist groups rejected the idea because it would in some way sanction the appearance of porn on the net and make it integral it's structure or backbone. That and they couldn't figure out that it would make it easier to block porn.

      In many ways it has the same advantages for all sides as Net Neutrality does, except without bussiness interests causing corporate lobbyists to stick their neck around the door.

      • Re:In the end... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dasch (832632) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:41AM (#15375601)
        "In the end I think that the domain was rejected becuase it recieved little support from either political disposition."

        What right does American politicians to decide whether or not there should be an XXX TLD? It's because of things like this that other countries want an international organization to control the TLD's.

        The only reason I'm skeptical of such thing is that several countries would without doubt use their influence to restrict the freedom of the 'net (*cough* China!)
        • None... I was merely explaining the rationale behind the rejection, not saying that I agreed with the US Government intervention. I would much prefer a competant, apolitical organisation instead of ICANN making decisions becuase it wouldn't force us to rely on a nation state for the internet.
        • What right does American politicians to decide whether or not there should be an XXX TLD?

          I'd say they have more right than anybody else to represent the people under them, because they are elected (or report to elected officials). Are the ICANNN beaurocrats supposed to exercise their own will in a bubble with no input from the rest of the world?

          I support open access to documents used in making public policy decisions, but the plaintiff is only trying to prove something I would assume anyways - that the

      • Christian Moralist groups rejected the idea because it would in some way sanction the appearance of porn on the net and make it integral it's structure or backbone. That and they couldn't figure out that it would make it easier to block porn.

        As I am far from the first to state: it WOULD NOT make it easier to block porn. Why would porn sites all meekly relocate their sites to a .xxx domain from which many potential customers will be blocked? NONE of the new "themed" TLDs have ever been used for their inte

      • Re:In the end... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by buysse (5473) * on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:14PM (#15376372) Homepage
        There's a third reason, and the one makes it a bad idea IMNSHO.

        Define porn. In a way that people from (non-inclusively) the Vatican, Tehran, Singapore, Beijing, and a small Baptist congregation in the US Bible Belt will agree to.

        Does it include a site from a plastic surgeon that has before and after pictures? How about information about safe sex, including proper condom use? Does it include the picture of a celebrity with a bit of cellulite that the National Enquirer paid US $50,000 for? How about pictures from a family vacation that include an unmarried woman tanning on a beach? Where can you draw the line internationally?

        • Re:In the end... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by killjoe (766577) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @04:51PM (#15377104)
          It gets even more complicated when you take into account the billions of fetishes in the world. For some people pictures of people wearing slippers is porn, for others pictures of accidents are porn.

          Porn is what happens in your head, not what's on the screen.
        • So you're saying people in different countries with different cultures think differently than each other?!

            Let others (soverign nations) decide what pornography is to them and don't impose US values on them. Sure a breast seen on TV or in a magazine may be OK in the UK but considered pornographic in Iran, that's how the World works. It also doesn't mean the situation can't change later, maybe in a hundred years the example I gave will be reversed.
        • an unmarried woman tanning on a beach

          Oh man that's HAWT!!! No tan lines on that ring finger... I'm getting wood!

        • Re:In the end... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by pembo13 (770295)
          Instead of something as vague as porn, offer it as a tld for business that offer adult entertainment as their primary product/service.
        • Why is everyone approaching this as a censorship issue? Why not create the domain, and allow any websites to put their content on it if they so choose.

          No non-porn website would use it because they would be blocked by lots of filters, so then all we would need is some sort of incentive for porn websites to use it.

          When did the idea of a .xxx domain transform into the idea of forcing all porn sites onto said domain?

        • The porn providers and consumers sure can define it well enough.

          Same goes for "junk-food¨, even if it's not that clearly defined, the people producing and consuming it know what it is.

          So a .xxx domain would make it easy for them, just like a .junk-food domain would make it easy for people to find new types of junk-food.

          Whilst junk food is unhealthy, what's wrong with making it easier for people to find new varieties of it. Not quite natural selection, but similar ;).
      • Either way, the US government has full control of the top level domain system, imposing its moral values on the world. This is in contrast to ICANN claiming independence from the US government. It's time to hand it over to an international body vs letting a government impose its values on the world.
      • Re:In the end... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jambarama (784670)
        No way the libertarians got this blocked - there are what, 5 of us? Seriously though, there were bigger problems than Christian moralists. For example:

        The domain name allocation problem was a big part of the reason this got killed. Obviously the names would be auctioned but no one was sure if all the names should be auctioned at all. Who gets "baptists.xxx" or "mormon.xxx" or even "usgov.xxx"? Should anyone? The Baptists, Mormons & US Government probably don't think anyone should get these domain
    • Why can't we just continue to use the dedicated pornography domain, .ru, like we have been for all these years?
  • WTF? Redacted? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:03AM (#15375505)

    I thought the government was only allowed to redact documents obtained under the FOIA to preserve national security. Since when does letting people have a naughty domain name threaten national security?

    FFS, kick the knee-jerking puritans out of office already.

    • Re:WTF? Redacted? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:18AM (#15375539) Homepage Journal
      It's the mentality of these people. Never tell the truth, or at least the whole truth, even if doing so would be the simplest course. Refuse to release information, withhold vital pieces of information, mislead, or outright lie -- but never just tell people what's going on. Honestly, I think there are an awful lot of people in government who do it, basically, for the little-kid thrill of saying "I know something you do-on't, nyaah nyaah!" It's an attitude which I saw way too much of in the military, and one which, in the *cough* post-9/11 era, has pretty much taken over every level of government from the White House to your local city council.
      • Re:WTF? Redacted? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:33AM (#15375580) Journal
        Don't ask me why it was top secret, or even restricted; our government has gotten the habit of classifying anything as secret which the all-wise statesmen and bureaucrats decide we are not big enough girls and boys to know, a Mother-Knows-Best-Dear policy. I've read that there used to be a time when a taxpayer could demand the facts on anything and get them. I don't know; it sounds Utopian.

        - Robert A. Heinlein, The Puppet Masters (1951)

      • Re:WTF? Redacted? (Score:5, Informative)

        by six11 (579) <johnsogg.cmu@edu> on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:47AM (#15375629) Homepage

        I completely agree that these people (government types) play this childish "nyaaa-nyaaah I know something you don't know!" game. I don't know if things are more likely to be redacted now than before 9/11, but it's been crazy for a long time. A long time.

        Yesterday, I was just curious what one had to do in order for the FBI to start a file on you (something that I aspire to have at some point), so I googled for "How do I get an FBI file?"

        The second hit is the John Lennon FBI Files [lennonfbifiles.com], which is hilarious and frightening at the same time. In particular: The Parrot Story [lennonfbifiles.com] was at first given to a researcher in a completely redacted form. Only after going through a court battle over this and other redacted documents did the true, criminally horrifying nature of the Parrot Story become clear. John Lennon had been harboring "Linda", who owned a parrot:

        THE PARROT STORY

        The informer's report written by Julie Maynard about her trip from Madison to New York in March 1972 continues with a story about "a girl there named Linda" who has a parrot that "interjects 'Right On' whenever the conversation gets rousing" (NY-88 page 5). That story was featured in news reports on the settlement as an example of the trivial information the FBI had been collecting in 1972, information to which the FBI devoted substantial resources to keep secret through ensuing decades. This page includes a variety of other movement gossip and information, none of which describes plans for criminal activity. This page was withheld in its entirety for fourteen years as confidential and then released as part of the 1997 settlement.

        Remember, that ENTIRE STORY had been redacted, and remained so until after a court forced the FBI to reveal what the page contained. Not only did the federal government spend American tax dollars collecting the story, they spent money, time, and legal resources depending their goal of keeping it secret.

        I suspect the reason the government does this is similar to the reason that the RIAA or commercial software publishers might corrupt peer-to-peer networks with corrupted versions of files. In both the redaction and peer-to-peer cases, The Man is introducing noise into the medium and frustrates efforts of users to get at the content they are looking for.

        Maybe the sequel to the Freedom of Information Act should be the Freedom from Redactions act.

        • Yeah. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

          And I do think it's worse now. Remember a while back, there was a /. story on reclassification of a bunch of documents that had been accessible to the public? Some of these were CIA documents going back to the Korean War. There is absolutely no justification for this, except we know this stuff and we don't want you to.
          • And I do think it's worse now.

            The "War on (some) Terror" provides a good excuse.

            Remember a while back, there was a /. story on reclassification of a bunch of documents that had been accessible to the public? Some of these were CIA documents going back to the Korean War. There is absolutely no justification for this, except we know this stuff and we don't want you to.

            There's the possibility of embarrasment for people still involved in government. In some ways it's a bit like extending copyright terms o
        • The Man is introducing noise into the medium and frustrates efforts of users to get at the content they are looking for.
          Right On!

          ...Macawwww!

        • Remember, that ENTIRE STORY had been redacted, and remained so until after a court forced the FBI to reveal what the page contained. Not only did the federal government spend American tax dollars collecting the story, they spent money, time, and legal resources depending their goal of keeping it secret.

          Which also makes you wonder what else they might be up to, instead of doing their actual job.
      • It's an attitude which I saw way too much of in the military, and one which, in the *cough* post-9/11 era, has pretty much taken over every level of government from the White House to your local city council.

        I tend to agree and hope the rest of the /. community (and America realizes) what I have come to sincerely believe. This isn't a Bush thing, it isn't a Republican thing, it's a government thing and we, the people, are losing control. I'm not really sure how to get it back but my approach right now is
        • I'm not really sure how to get it back but my approach right now is to vote against any incumbent regardless of party to make a statement that this is unacceptable.

          Absolutely. I've been doing this ever since I turned 18 oh those many years ago.
          I'd say give Russ Feingold a pass if you're in his district, but other than him, no member of either house has demonstrated any integrity in years.

      • one which, in the *cough* post-9/11 era

        If we allow pr0n to have a .xxx domain, then the terrorists have won!!!
      • First, the FOIA never was intended to provide information. It was always intended as a sop to people who wanted info. Congress has oversight comittees and gets info that way.

        Second, there is very little protection against corporate or governmental employee malfeasance, short of clearly criminal behaviour. Both hide under the doctrine of "vicarious liability" and escape personal consequences. Perhaps this doctrine should be made more porous or pierceable. This would serve as some counter-balance to def

    • There are a number of exemptions to FOIA, of which national security is only one. I have not seen the responses given in this case, but I would speculate that they included the (b)(4) exemption (Trade secrets, commerical or financial info) and (b)(5) (privileged inter- & intra-agency memoranda and letters), which are probably the two most frequently used exemptions. A full list of the exemptions can be easily found through a Google search. E.g., http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/~foia/foiae x .htm [noaa.gov]
      • Exactly, there are several exemptions. As somebody who has filed a FOIA request before ( as part of a grievance process), I know first hand that you often get redacted documents back as a matter of course. You can read the full text of the "Freedom of Information Act" here [cornell.edu].

        Specifically, the exemptions are [and this case my money is on (b)(5)]:
        • Exemption (b)(1) - National Security Information
        • Exemption (b)(2) - Internal Personnel Rules and Practices
        • - "High" (b)(2) - Substantial internal matters, disc
    • I thought the government was only allowed to redact documents obtained under the FOIA to preserve national security.

      I once saw a page that had every word redacted including the preprinted form descriptions. The only thing visable were the preprinted lines of the form (and I don't think I should've even seen that). =)

    • I thought the government was only allowed to redact documents obtained under the FOIA to preserve national security.

      You mean "to preserve things marked as Secret", which ammounts to the same thing, if you call "national embarassments" national securiity.

      And you're also forgetting that the government agencies can redact to perserve the privacy or trade secrets of its employees, contractors, or the general public, or that the government HAS to redact any document when ordered to by a Judge. (For example, a s
    • Re:WTF? Redacted? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @03:14PM (#15376788)
      FFS, kick the knee-jerking puritans out of office already.

      You're the knee-jerker. The .xxx domain is almost universally despised.

      1. Pornographers hate it 'cause it forces one level of regulation upon them. Then it's easy to block *.xxx at the ISP level or even at the national level (in slightly more repressive countries). Filtering software is easy to enable. Porn sites have to declare themselves and provide information about themselves, which makes them easier to target.

      2. Borderline sites (artistic nudes, SI swimsuit, etc.) may have to move to .xxx by the law, which would be unfair to them since nothing is actually pornographic. In fact, nothing there would be illegal to show to minors, but .xxx requirements may be more than simply the Miller test. Educational institutions may filter *.xxx, preventing students from learning about Titian's Venus of Urbino [roanoke.edu] or Boticelli's Birth of Venus [csuhayward.edu], both of which prominently feature naked women. In fact, most art websites would either have to self-censor or move their entire gallery to .xxx. DeviantART would be in trouble because it would have to separate the really deviant art from the normal stuff. I've seen on Yahoo! Photos a checkbox to mark photo albums as "over 18 only." The new proposal would force a split of photos.yahoo.com and photos.yahoo.xxx - and then the next big news story is "Yahoo launches yahoo.xxx domain".

      3. Conservatives/reactionaries and rabid Christians despise it because it legitimises porn. It also makes finding porn theoretically easier, and gives the raunchy stuff which they'd want to outlaw the excuse of saying that they're on .xxx so they should be immune. .xxx creates a "virtual red-light district" in the words of some conservatives. If the goal is to ban pornography on the Internet, why give it a TLD of its own?

      4. The only group that seems to really want .xxx is the .xxx registrar itself. Note who's suing the US - the registrar that stood to make a profit, not any porn sites. What they're asking is for a government-sponsored choke hold on the entire online pornography industry, so that they can force all existing sites to re-register at whatever prices and under whatever terms they dictate.


      When pornographers and conservatives both oppose something, you know it has to be bad.
      • The only group that seems to really want .xxx is the .xxx registrar itself.

        Not exactly. I know more than a few business sysadmins (myself included) that would welcome it. While easy to block at the ISP or national level is a downside, able to block at the subnet level is definitely an upside.
  • by zerojoker (812874) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:09AM (#15375518)
    [http://www.internetgovernance.org/pdf/xxx-foiapag e.pdf] are a very interesting read and show how the US Government changed its mind from neutrality to influencing the decision. Probably due to pressure from conservative family-oriented politicans...
  • From Bush (Score:5, Funny)

    by styryx (952942) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:11AM (#15375523)
    BUSH: "Ya see, that's what the pr0n terr'ists want! They'd love us to just release this information. Can't you see people will get hurt! National security (of the children) is at stake here."

    Suing the U.S. Government? Fair play, you got some balls and/or a lot of naivety. Good luck.

    Also, if we don't want a .xxx domain then we should probably take the magazines down from the top shelves and put them with the rest.

    Just a thought
    • I know at least one person who has sued the government and won; and his case was a bit more important than the .xxx domain. Dan Bernstein [wikipedia.org] helped get encryption legalized and covered by the 1st amendment.
  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:21AM (#15375548)
    I care. I don't care about the .xxx TLD. I think it wouldn't hurt, but it won't help either. But I do care how the decision was made: I want to know if it was independent or if ICANN just executed what the US government demanded. In discussions about control over DNS and the root servers, the US constantly reiterate that ICANN is independent, and even though it is on US soil, it acts without interference from the US government. If there is evidence that the US government pressured ICANN into making a decision that it would have made differently on its own, then it is high time for the rest of the world to establish independent DNS roots.
    • If there is evidence that the US government pressured ICANN into making a decision that it would have made differently on its own, then it is high time for the rest of the world to establish independent DNS roots.

      Go ahead. There is absolutely nothing stopping anybody from doing this.

  • I'm not really sure how to take that tagline...

    Anyway, why shouldn't there be a xxx domain? Not mandatory, but if a particular site wants to say right up front, "Hey, I'm porn," what's wrong with that? Maybe it seems a little much to give a whole domain to a single topic, but if you don't want to accidentally see porn it gives you a decent way to greatly reduce the amount you see, and it's one of those universal things in our (and by our I mean the whole world's) society, there's some people that want to see porn and some that don't, and at most a very very small percentage that don't care one way or the other. Give the way TLDs are used these days it seems a hell of a lot more useful than any of the others beside .gov and .edu. Doesn't hurt anyone either, anyone that wants to find porn can find it in as long as it takes to type "porn [google.com]" in the Google search box.

    Don't get me wrong, it's not a "strong" in the computer science meaning of the word filter, but it's decent and it helps out people on both sides of the fence. I don't see why this is being fought. Is disallowing this TLD going to stop porn on the Internet? Am I missing something here?

    • You know, out of sight out of mind. The people who fear porn and their own sexuality often stand by these trite axioms. They don't want condom use being taught in school because it will increase teenage sexual activity. They don't want female nipples seen on television because it will encourge children to have sex. They don't want an XXX domain because it will make it easier for children to find porn, which will irreperably damage them somehow.

      Also, they don't want their government supporting porn in an
      • They don't want condom use being taught in school because it will increase teenage sexual activity. They don't want female nipples seen on television because it will encourge children to have sex. They don't want an XXX domain because it will make it easier for children to find porn, which will irreperably damage them somehow.

        In addition, they don't want [go.com] a new vaccine that prevents early stage cervical cancer and cancer lesions caused by HPV infection, because this may encourage teenagers to be more

        • And the saddest aspect is that teenagers always have and always will be having sex. Denial of information about sex only causes pregnancies and the spread of STDs - and now cancer!
          • Do you really believe that? Honestly? That teenagers won't listen to people telling them there's a better way to live life? Forget about stereotypes for a second and consider teenagers who actually do have some self control and aren't dictated to by hormones.

            You don't really think that teenagers aren't impressionable do you? That they just might be influenced by a bombardment of movies music and television effectively saying "have sex now or you're a loser, look everyone else is doing it!".
        • Wait a minute, they have a valid position (but they don't voice it correctly...) Vaccines are serious business. You are injecting something directly into your body. Every vaccine has risks and this one is a vaccine for a disease whose mode of transmission is a fairly deliberate act. Unlike smallpox or polio, there's no public health reason why it should be a required vaccine.
  • A stack of links (Score:2, Informative)

    by jginspace (678908)

    I went a searchin' for alternative sources - that cbronline article has problems in Opera for one thing - http://bigblog.com/search.cgi?id=535484929 [bigblog.com]

  • by Zweideutig (900045) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:28AM (#15375565)
    Many people (including myself) resent this disgusting smut. I would rather it didn't become legitimized by having its own top level domain. These "adult entertainment" companies should all cease and desist for the morality of the U.S.
  • by Plunky (929104) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @09:53AM (#15375643)
    I wonder what would happen if this company ICM just went out and bought some bandwidth (guess they already got some of that), and set up a DNS server that would handle requests from the .xxx domain, and started selling subdomains of it to people who wanted name resolutions there. Although ICANN are 'the domain authority' they have refused to handle this TLD so surely its up for grabs? ICM could advertise their services and its up to the DNS admins of all the DNS servers around the world if they want to add it as an authoritative server, surely? If some porn sites decide to get on board and offer free porn to all comers (heh) then the end customer demand might be high enough that ISPs the world over add it. I freely admit, I am no DNS admin and I dont know how it works.
    • That's all well and good, right up until the moment that some other company tries to do the same thing with the same .xxx TLD (and don't think that no one will try...) You will use the global uniqueness of domain names that makes the net work - www.sex.xxx will go to one website for one user, and another for a different user whose ISP is pointing their .xxx resolution to a different registrar. And of course, it will go nowhere if your ISP hasn't added an NS record for the domain at all.

      My issues with .xxx a
    • A few people may register domains for defense reasons, philosophical reasons or because they are gullible. Everyone else including most ISPs will simply ignore them. So while there may be some money to be made this way it will be nowhere near what could be made by running a real TLD.

      No ISP is going to be interested in a service that noone really uses (by really use i mean as critial to access there stuff not aliases) and noones going to wan't to really use the names while most ISPs don't support them.
  • by EzInKy (115248) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @10:31AM (#15375754)
    There is a W3C article, Why Using TLDs for Filtering is Ineffective, Harmful, and Unnecessary [w3.org], that points out all the downfalls of creating a .xxx domain. This excerpt sums up why I am personally opposed to the idea:

    "7. The definition of what is offensive obviously differs greatly from country to country, from year to year, and from person to person. If bare ankles are considered obscene in some cultures, but are permitted in photos of Web sites in France selling sandals, then individuals wishing to keep photos of bare ankles out of their home using filtering on ".xxx" are unlikely to succeed. How will sites about safe sex or AIDS be treated? Who will establish what is art and what is pornography?"

    Also, having read these documents [internetgovernance.org] it appears to me that this whole thing is nothing but a land grab by ICM.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 21, 2006 @10:41AM (#15375787)
    Due to the highly sensitive nature of the information involved in this lawsuit (namely George Bush's nightly visits to www.wifeysworld.com [wifeysworld.com] and the fact that he doesn't know how to change the bookmark address in IE), we're not going to grant you the necessary security level for which to challenge our authority. Lawsuit dismissed!
  • porn? what about whiskey?
  • If ICANN grants the .xxx domain, it is accused of trying to ghettoize porn. If it doesn't grant the .xxx domain, it is accused of trying to ban porn. No matter what, they can't win.
  • I hear Cuba is sunny and warm this time of year. Enjoy.
  • I have a site showing my photographic work.
    Amongst the many photos of landscapes, portraits, events, animals, architecture and fashion are some nudes; would my site have to be hosted on .xxx?

    Though I like the idea of having all the porn sites on a .xxx TLD so I could easily find and others could easily block it, my example is just one of many which makes the distinction between xxx and non-xxx content hard.

    As posted elsewhere, there are many cases where cultural, political, religious and moral influences ch

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