Porn sites closer to getting .xxx Internet address

An online red-light district won a long battle on Friday to set up a new .xxx Internet address after the global Internet oversight agency said it made mistakes in rejecting it three years ago.

The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, says it will now start the process of registering ".xxx" by making checks on ICM Registry LLC, the company that wants to run it.

ICM's founder Stuart Lawley says he thinks the new address could attract at least 500,000 sites, making it after ".mobi", the second biggest sponsored top-level domain name, or TLD, the name for web address suffixes .com or .org.

Lawley expects to make $30 million a year in revenue by selling each .xxx site for $60 — and pledges to donate $10 from each sale to child protection initiatives via a non-profit he has set up, the International Foundation for Online Responsibility, or IFFOR.

He already has 110,000 reservations, he says, and could get .xxx up and running within six to nine months after ICANN checks that ICM has the financial means and technical know-how to run it. "I think we could do a million or more. There are several million adult TLDs already out there," he said before the ICANN board meeting.

Lawley also says he will make it easy for web blocking software to filter out ".xxx" sites by requiring them to carry a machine-readable metatag marking them clearly as porn. "It will promote more labeled content," he said. "People who want to find it know where it is and people who don't see it or want to keep it away from their kids can use mechanisms to do so."

Sceptics note that porn sites would likely keep existing ".com" storefronts to allow their businesses to be found more easily.

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