Are You Ready for Internet XXXtortion?
As if conservative family groups don’t have enough battles to fight on a daily basis, the company handling the buying and selling of the new Internet “red-light district” domain extension, “.xxx,” just handed these groups a near-impossible problem to solve.
The new “.xxx” domain names, which supposedly designate pornography websites, officially go on sale this week in earnest. ICM Registry, LLC, is the company overseeing the transfers, while sites like GoDaddy.com and 101domain.com handle the actual sales. ICM Registry’s whole reason for being is to profit from sales of “.xxx” domain names for pornography.
While pornographers may find this new domain extension particularly thrilling (ICM has indicated initial interest of 900,000 inquiries), anyone can buy whatever name they choose, including those of established family groups, news organizations, churches, homes for battered women, businesses — the whole range of entities from Concerned Women for America to the Red Cross, Disney, Babies ‘R’ Us, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and many more. Each name could be bought with a “.xxx” extension unless the organization itself buys it first. Thus, the money ultimately ends up as profit to ICM Registry.
As the CEO of a family-focused, pro-life group, I find it outrageous that I may be faced with the choice of discovering that a pornography company bought and now owns my domain name with the .xxx extension or being forced to pay to own it myself. Is it just me, or does that sound like some kind of protection racket?
I certainly don’t want to be associated with any .xxx domain names. And the domain name companies are going to rake in the cash, since .xxx extensions are going to be sold at a huge price (and therefore a huge profit) of some $100 to $300 a year, if not upwards of thousands of dollars as some organizations have suggested, while the .com extensions typically go for a mere $10 per year.
So not only will the domain companies bleed non-profits who decide that their only real option is to buy the .xxx name of their own organization, but to add insult to injury, non-profits will be enriching companies who make money off enabling crude and offensive pornography.
And honestly, today’s pornography is so extremely violent and debased that it makes most people recoil in horror. It degrades women and children in ways past generations never imagined.
We know pornography is used to “groom” trafficking victims by desensitizing the girls and instructing them in their new way of life. We would never allow rape, bestiality, and other hardcore pornography into our homes via commercial labeling, but now we may be forced to pay for it indirectly by subsidizing the vehicle that makes it possible for the porn companies to expand their online presence.
ICM Registry may be making available an opt-out mechanism for groups like mine to pay a fee of $200 to $300 to hold the .xxx version of our Web address from being purchased by pornography companies. But that’s just a short-term option that still forces us to pay into their coffers. Who are these people to make those kinds of demands on legitimate organizations? No one should have to pay them money to avoid association with the porn industry.
ICM Registry needs to come up with a better solution than just to pad its pockets with money from people who find pornography particularly disgraceful.
In my opinion, what they’re doing is nearly extortion. And worst of all, the joke is on us, the regular people: the .xxx domain ramps up the profits of the registry companies at the same time that it metastasizes the presence of online porn — the .com porn will not go away, it will merely be joined by countless more .xxx sites. Some of which will undoubtedly carry familiar names.
Penny Nance is the CEO and president of Concerned Women for America.