May 4, 2006 · Tim Wu
The dot xxx debate has been back in the news recently, and what I find unendingly puzzling is the sides taken.
From first principles, you’d except groups who want it to be harder to get pornography on the internet to want a .xxx domain — followed by a law (like this one, or stronger) ordering ISPs to block porn sites that don’t move to the porn zone. That would make it relatively easier to avoid randomly running into porn on the internet.
Yet as everyone knows the positions are reversed. The United States has signaled strong opposition, as have other governments. Groups in opposition rely on arguments that defy logic – like the argument that dot-xxx would mean more porn on the internet (if there is anything slowing the market for porn, its not the unavailability of a domain name). But U.S. groups, for reasons I cannot fathom, urge that dot-xxx would “mean perhaps twice as many Internet porn sites and twice the danger to children.”
What the episode largely teaches is a lesson in how the obessions of large and powerful states will shape the Net of the future. The opposition to dot-xxx is fairly hysterical — it is of the mindset that thinks it is better to pretend pornography doesn’t exist, for to admit it exists is to condone it. That’s a puzzling way of thinking to much of the world, but very familiar to Americans and some Europeans. Hence the opposition to dot-xxx.
Since the 1990s I’ve thought alone with others that porn on the internet could be better zoned. But if to zone it is to condone it, so much for that vision.