An Internet version of a red light district opened on Tuesday as Web addresses with “.xxx” endings became available for purchase by those interested in providing online adult content.
Florida-based ICM Registry is overseeing the top-level domain (TLD) geared for adult entertainment and reported that it is seeing nearly a million visits daily to its buy.xxx Web site showing where the addresses can be purchased.
“We’ve put a lot of money into this, and 10 years of blood, sweat and tears,” ICM chief executive Stuart Lawley said. “I feel validated. It has been a long struggle, but we stuck to our guns and took the high road.”
The non-profit Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board in March approved a petition to add .xxx to the list of “generic top level domains,” those endings that include .com and .org.
Lawley estimated that between US$10 million and US$20 million were spent on the campaign, which began in 2000.
“Everything up to today has been the warmup,” Lawley said. “The marathon is on.”
He depicted the .xxx domain as “win, win, win,” since it creates an online district clearly marked for those intent on finding or avoiding adult content, and which automatically scans Web sites for viruses or other malicious code.
“That is a first — scanning doesn’t happen at .com,” Lawley said. “Instead of adult sites being risky, they will be among the safest sites on the Internet.”
ICM enlisted anti-virus specialty firm McAfee to scan .xxx Web sites daily for nefarious software.
The sites are also designed with tags to be easily identified by parental filter features in commonly used Web browsers, Lawley said.
Public sales of .xxx addresses come after ICM gave recognized brands and established adult entertainment industry players opportunities to secure Web sites related to their names.
Some popular Web addresses, such as gay.xxx, were sold at auction. The gay.xxx address sold for several hundred thousand dollars, according to ICM.
The risque online neighborhood was opposed by some adult industry firms that feel they are compelled to buy new Web site addresses to avoid others capitalizing on their names and by conservative groups opposed to porn.
A lawsuit has been filed accusing ICM of taking advantage of its exclusive control of .xxx to jack up fees. Annual registry of a .xxx Web site is about US$70 compared with US$10 or so typical of other Web sites on the Internet.
“The lawsuit is clearly without merit and we will defend against it,” Lawley said. “You can choose not to buy a new TLD.”
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