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Wed, Dec 07, 2005 - Page 12 News List

`Asia' Web domain close to approval, porn zone delayed


The quasi-governmental organization that oversees the Internet has tentatively approved an ".asia" Web domain to unify the Asia-Pacific community, but the group has delayed a decision on whether to move forward with a ".xxx" zone for pornography sites.

At its annual meeting this past weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) took up several topics related to the global administration of the Internet, which has become a heated topic because the US has insisted on maintaining oversight.

The new ".asia." domain would supplement suffixes available for individual countries, such as ".cn" for China and ".jp" for Japan.

English-language names for ".asia" could begin being registered six months after ICANN grants final approval. But first, ICANN and the DotAsia Organization Ltd will have to iron out contract details. The DotAsia group, which consists of domain name operators in Asian nations, also plans to explore permitting site addressess in Asian languages.

Separately, ICANN delegates discussed methods for allowing new Web addresses to be created in Chinese, Arabic, Cyrillic and other alphabets instead of the Latin script used in English. The technical tweaks required are complicated, but a test run is expected to begin shortly, ICANN spokesman Andrew Robertson said.

On more contentious topics, however, ICANN put off decisions.

Before the meeting began last week, discussion of a voluntary ".xxx." domain for adult entertainment sites was removed from the agenda. The idea has been floated by ICM Registry Inc of Jupiter, Florida, which argues that such a domain would help the US$12 billion online porn industry clean up. Those using the domain, which ICM would administer, would have to agree not to deploy such trickery as spam and malicious software programs.

Anti-porn advocates, however, counter 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. Many porn sites also object, fearing that such a domain would help governments filter their content.

ICANN president Paul Twomey said the delay in a ".xxx" decision was largely procedural. The multigovernmental committee that weighs in on international issues needed more time to review newly submitted documents, he said.

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