Faced with opposition from conservative groups and some pornography websites, the Internet's key oversight agency voted Wednesday to reject a proposal to create a red-light district on the Internet.
The decision from the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers reverses its preliminary approval last June to create a dot-xxx domain name for voluntary use by the adult entertainment industry.
Paul Twomey, ICANN'S chief executive, said the decision largely came down to whether by creating an "xxx" domain ICANN might be put in a position of having to enforce all of the world's laws on pornography.
He said board members were aware of the controversy but "the heart of the decision today was not driven by a political consideration."
ICANN, based in Marina del Rey, had postponed making a final decision in August after the U.S. government stepped in to underscore objections it had received.
Its rejection by a 9-5 vote ends a six-year effort by ICM Registry Inc. of Jupiter, Fla., to establish a domain for the porn industry. ICANN first tabled its bid in 2000 out of fear it would be getting into content control.
ICM resubmitted its bid in 2004, this time structuring it with a policy-setting organization to free ICANN of that task.
The company argued the domain would help the multibillion-dollar online porn industry clean up its act. It said rules would be established to bar spamming and malicious scripts.
Pornography foes, however, countered that sites would be free to keep their current dot-com address, in effect making porn more easily accessible by creating yet another channel to house it.