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August 18, 2005
Column #1,251
                
                       Fight The .XXX Domain
                                     
                               
     The Internet Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers (ICANN) that governs the Internet came within a whisker of establishing an .XXX domain for porn Web sites this week.

      However, a top Bush Administration official persuaded ICANN to postpone the decision one month.

     Some believe the creation of an .XXX domain will clean up the .com domain where there are millions of porn Web sites, and make it easy to block obscenity from computers.

     However, the Family Research Council warns the step "will not require pornographers who are on the .com domain to relocate to the .XXX domain. Instead, they will keep their current .com porn sites and EXPAND their empires to the .XXX domain," says Pat Trueman, FRC's senior legal counsel and former Chief of the U.S. Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

     The last thing America needs is to double the availability of hard core pornography.

     Instead, what's needed is enforcement of existing laws which make the selling of obscenity illegal. There has not been one case in which the Federal Government has prosecuted the most graphic sex on the Internet or Cable TV. 

     In fact, the Bush Administration has been surprising lax in enforcing obscenity laws, unlike the Reagan and Bush I Administrations which incarcerated a number of pornographers and confiscated their bank accounts. Few have gone to prison in the last five years. The new Attorney General is promising fresh enforcement actions, and did hire Bruce Taylor, a Bush I prosecutor, to lead a new task force to step up action. That is a modest sign of hope.

     The ICANN initiative presents a superb opportunity for the Bush Administration to take two decisive steps:

     1.  The U.S. Department of Commerce, which must approve the ICANN proposal, should refuse to do so on grounds that it will make obscenity more available. "Pornography violates the dignity of the women and men involved, destroys marital bonds and pollutes the minds of child and adult consumers," says Trueman. Indeed, many therapists have told me that half their divorce cases involve husbands addicted to pornography.

     2.  The U.S. Justice Department should announce its intention to prosecute hard core obscenity on the Internet and Cable TV. That would make GM and other major corporations investing in porn, have second thoughts about profiting from filmed prostitution.

     What's encouraging is that Commerce Assistant Secretary Michael Gallagher wrote a letter to ICANN's Chairman stating that "The Department of Commerce has received nearly 6,000 letters and emails from individuals expressing concern about the impact of pornography on families and children... The volume of correspondence opposed to the creation of a .XXX domain is unprecedented. Given the extent of the negative reaction, I request that the Board will provide a proper process and adequate additional time for these concerns to be voiced and addressed before any additional action takes place on this issue."

     The result is a one-month delay which offers people who care about this issue the opportunity to write a letter urging that the .XXX domain not be established.

     There is a technical reason to do so in addition to the obvious moral issue. If you type in FRC.org, computers translate that into an alphanumeric address which is more complicated and difficult to remember: 208.159.115.3. If you enter that number in a browser, you will get the Family Research Council.

     According to David Burt of Secure Computing Corp., if the .XXX domain is created, each new porn site has to be researched individually, and tracked by its numeric identity "the same way we currently track .com porn sites. And that's a big job. We currently have 2.1 million pornography sites we filter, which at a rate of 200 pages per site translates into about 420 million pages of pornography. So rather than making our job easier, the main impact of a .XXX will have for the filtering companies is to simply create more pornographic sites for us to filter."

     If you do not want to have more pornography made available, write to Asst. Secretary Michael Gallagher, U.S. Commerce Department, Washington, D.C. 20230, and tell him you not only oppose ICANN's approval of the .XXX domain, but also demand that existing obscenity laws be enforced on the Internet and Cable TV.

     If you or a family member have been harmed by pornography, confess it.

     As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them" (Eph. 5:11).

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