Last time I wrote about the intrusive nature of Internet pornography, and some ways that people may monitor their children’s usage of the Internet. In this article, I’d like to explore one way the Internet community may work together on the porn problem.

Most people are familiar with domain names ending in .com. There are also .net, .org, and .edu, but many people aren’t as familiar with .mil, .gov, and .int. These seven top-level domains (TLDs) were created in the 1980s. Anyone may register a new .com, .org, or .net site, but .edu, .gov, .mil, and .int sites are reserved for US schools, US government, US military, and international organizations, respectively. As the Internet extended outside of the United States, new two-letter TLDs were created for each country. With the boom of the Internet in the ’90s, many people saw the need for some new TLDs to be created. In 2001 and 2002, seven new top-level domains came online. Anyone may register .biz, .info, .name, or .pro, but .aero, .coop, and .museum are reserved for aerospace sites, cooperatives, and museums, respectively. For the Internet porn industry, I propose a new TLD: .xxx.

With the .xxx TLD, all adult-level content could have its own specially designated location. Existing porn sites like playboy.com could still exist, but all graphics and streaming audio/video would have to originate from a .xxx site. This would be an easy change for porn sites to implement, and it would permit a new and simple method of porn filtering by enabling people to block any .xxx traffic to their computers. Operating systems like Microsoft Windows or Linux would have to enable this filtering, or it could be a new feature in browsers like Internet Explorer or Netscape. I can envision Internet service providers advertising their services as “family friendly” by blocking .xxx traffic for all their users. Other ISPs could advertise unfiltered Internet access for adults.

No doubt there would be some objections to this change, so let’s look at the possible objections one by one:

You’re preventing me from viewing porn!
Not so. Adults may choose to block or not to block .xxx traffic on their computers. If your ISP has blocked all .xxx traffic, you may switch to another ISP that doesn’t filter it, or request that your ISP not block .xxx traffic to your account.

I won’t be able to go to my favorite .com smut sites any more!
You could still surf to playboy.com, and there would be no noticeable changes as far as you were concerned. But all the adult content would be coming from playboy.xxx or someothersite.xxx. To you, Mr. Pervert, the impact would be negligible.

There shouldn’t be any restriction on my porn.
Our society has already determined that some porn, such as child porn, is illegal to make, distribute and view. But while some porn is legal, it still should not be viewed by minors. After all, adult material is for–well–adults. A respectable bookstore does not sell adult magazines to anyone under 18. Responsible movie theaters which screen NC-17 or X-rated shows do not knowingly sell tickets to anyone under 18. Likewise, porn sites should not grant access to anyone under 18. Many sites have an entry page that requires you to acknowledge that you are 18 or older before going any further. This proposal would be similar, but it would grant parents greater control over their children’s Internet actions.

My civil rights are being infringed!
No, they’re not. You are still able to view smut. Only the location has changed. Quit your whining.

My freedom of speech is being violated!
Viewing porn online has nothing to do with your freedom of speech. Besides, there are only three groups who may restrict your porn access under this proposal: your parents, if you are still a minor; yourself, if you enable filtering on your computer; or your ISP, if it is a “family friendly” service.

Hey! I run a porn site and my freedom of speech is being violated!
Um, no. You’d still be free to host your porn. But you’d have to place all adult material on a .xxx server. Any adult who wanted to view your site would still be able to do so.

I don’t want to lose my .com/.net/.org site!
You don’t have to. You can still keep your site; the only change would be moving the adult material over to your new .xxx domain. The name of the .xxx site doesn’t matter, but to avoid too many conflicts, I would give .com sites priority in registering their domain names under the .xxx domain.

But it will be too difficult to make this change!
Not if your webmaster is even minimally competent.

I don’t want to make this change!
This change will not affect people who wish to view your site, as they would still be able to do so. The main benefactors of this change are parents who wish to prevent their children from getting boobs in the face, and adults who don’t want that either. Are you saying that you want to peddle smut to kids and the unwilling?

There is one major problem with this proposal: how would you enforce it? I am confident there would be sites that would gladly accept this change, since it would permit them to continue in business, and they would have the peace of mind knowing that parents could easily prevent their young and impressionable children from viewing adult material online. I see this as a very responsible attitude. But there would also be sites resisting this change. Since the Internet is a global venue, it isn’t possible for the United States to pass a law telling a site in Holland or Ghana or China what to do. A global organization with global reach would be able to pass and enforce such a law, but I have an inherent distrust of global organizations, so I would prefer a different path.

The Internet community is capable of self-policing as the need arises. You can see this self-policing in action as people report spam abuses to a spammer’s ISP. If the ISP doesn’t take action, then the complaint is bounced up to the Internet provider of that ISP. One of my happiest moments online came when I read a reply from one such provider, telling me they had cut off an offending ISP from the Internet at my request because of repeated spamming and other violations of their terms of service. Something similar could be done by providers who host sites that don’t honor the .xxx convention.

While there are some issues that would take much negotiation and agreement by the parties involved, I believe that creating a .xxx top level domain and the subsequent code changes that would allow people to filter out any traffic from those sites would benefit both parents and people who choose not to view porn. And since there would be no obstacle to people who still want to view porn and those sites that wish to provide it, it would be a win-win situation all around.

Leave a Reply