The Porn Suffix
Establishing a new Internet suffix like ''.com'' or ''.org'' takes deep pockets and patience. This has not deterred Stuart Lawley, a Florida entrepreneur, from trying to establish a pornography-only ''.xxx'' domain. In such a realm, Lawley could restrict porn marketing to adults only, protect users' privacy, limit spam and collect fees from Web masters. The .xxx proposal was finally slated for approval in August by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), but because of a flurry of protest, it has been shelved for now.
Lawley's scheme has aroused support and dissent across the political spectrum. The Family Research Council warns that it will simply breed more smut. But Senator Joe Lieberman supports a virtual red-light district because he says it would make the job of filtering out porn easier.
Meanwhile, some pornographers, apparently drawn by the promise of catchier and more trustworthy U.R.L.'s, have gotten behind Lawley. Other skin-peddlers, echoing the A.C.L.U., see the establishment of a voluntary porn zone as the first step toward the deportation of their industry to a distant corner of the Web, where their sites could easily be blocked by skittish Internet service providers, credit card companies and even governments.
The Free Speech Coalition, a lobbying group for the pornography industry, supports an entirely different approach to Web architecture. It recommends that children be confined to a wholesome ''.kids'' domain. This ''walled garden'' theory of Internet safety is not original. It is borrowed from Lawley himself, who has since dropped it because he deems it impractical.