By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer
The Internet's key oversight agency approved a domain name for the
Catalan language Thursday while deferring final action on creating a
red-light district on the Internet through a ".xxx" suffix.
Creating the ".cat" suffix for individuals, organizations and
companies that promote the Catalan language and culture was relatively
uncontroversial. Though the language is spoken largely in certain
regions of Spain, backers say a domain name could unify Catalan
speakers who live in France, Italy, Andorra and elsewhere. The name
could begin appearing in use next year.
As for ".xxx," the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
deferred final approval for the second time in as many months.
The board decided to seek changes to a proposed contract with ICM
Registry Inc., the Jupiter, Fla., that would run the domain name for
voluntary use by the adult entertainment industry. No details were
immediately available on the changes sought.
The ".xxx" domain has met with opposition from conservative groups and
some pornography Web sites, and ICANN postponed a final decision last
month after the U.S. government stepped in just days before a
scheduled meeting to underscore objections it had received. ICANN had
given a preliminary OK in June.
ICM argues the domain would help the $12 billion online porn industry
clean up its act. Those using the domain would have to abide by
yet-to-be-written rules designed to bar such trickery as spamming and
malicious scripts. ICM would charge $60 per name.
Anti-porn advocates, however, countered that sites would be free to
keep their current ".com" address, in effect making porn more easily
accessible by creating yet another channel to house it.
And they say such a domain name would legitimize adults sites, which
two of every five Internet users visited in April, according to
tracking by comScore Media Metrix.
Many porn sites also objected, fearing that such a domain would pave
the way for governments -- the United States or repressive regimes
abroad -- or even private industry to filter speech that is protected
here under the First Amendment.
ICANN was selected by the U.S. government in 1998 to oversee Internet
addressing policies, although the Commerce Department retains veto
power over decisions. More than 260 domain name suffixes exist, mostly
country codes such as ".fr" for France. Recent additions include ".eu"
for the European Union and ".mobi" for mobile services.
Although ICANN was to consider the ".asia" domain during Thursday's
teleconference board meeting, it took no action on establishing a
unified domain for the Asia-Pacific community.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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