The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) plans to open up .xxx domains for pornographic websites in an effort to get them to self-segregate to the appropriate dark corners of Internet.
The vast majority of websites have addresses that end in .com or .net and are shared equally among smut slingers, churches, or anybody. The new domain option gives porn site operators the chance to move to more specific areas that will aid parents and uninterested parties to better filter out porn from their web site viewing.
The move has been in the works for five years now, following the establishment of the ICM Registry to regulate the .xxx domain. ICANN has entered into commercial and technical negotiations with ICM Registry, who will likely be manage the domain.
“By moving forward with .xxx, the online adult-entertainment industry is taking part in a proactive approach to its presence on the Internet,” said ICM Registry Chairman Stuart Lawley.
The online porn industry collects $12 billion annually and, according to ICM, accounts for at least 10% of all online traffic and 25% of search engine traffic.
Moving to the domain for the estimated one million porn sites will be voluntary, a non-requirement that is raising eyebrows for sure. Many sexually explicit websites say they will opt to keep their .com and .net domains rather than switch due to the cost of changing letterheads, logos, stationary, marketing materials and so on. Losing regular customers who have their sites bookmarked are also of concern to them.
Though much will remain the same, ICM says the .xxx extension "will create a clearly identifiable area of the Internet that will both help protect children and families, as well as enable responsible adult-entertainment website operators to self-organize and self-regulate on a voluntary basis."
Selling at $60 a year, ten times the going rate for .com addresses, there is a lot of money to be made here, if porn sites actually decide to switch.