.xxx hangs legal threat over ICANN

The company behind “.xxx” has sent a thinly-veiled legal threat to ICANN, demanding its Internet domain proposal be approved sharpish.

ICM Registry, which has been fighting with the domain name overseer for years, said it expects ICANN to approve .xxx at its meeting in Nairobi next month, and indicated that it will not take no for an answer.

In a letter to ICANN's chair, ICM president Stuart Lawley noted that ICANN is bound by international and Californian law, adding: “I hope you will understand that we must protect our rights if it appears that our efforts to work in partnership with ICANN are failing, once again, to bear fruit.”

The letter comes a week after an independent arbitration panel found that ICANN's board, having essentially approved .xxx in June 2005, later reneged on the the deal after the Bush administration received thousands of complaints from dimbos on the religious right.

The panel of retired judges decided by majority that ICANN unfairly singled out ICM for special treatment, in violation of its own rules and commitments to “neutral” and “objective” decision-making.

ICANN president Rod Beckstrom said this week that the board will “consider” the .xxx domain, “despite the previous considerable stakeholder and public opposition to its approval,” leading some to suggest that ICM's proposal could still be rejected.

As well as the US and other governments, there have been objections from pornographers and free speech advocates, worried that the creation of .xxx could quickly lead to laws being passed mandating its use. ICM has vowed to fight such laws.

Legendary Hustler founder Larry Flynt even chipped in, saying in 2006 that .xxx was “an inherently dangerous idea with no real purpose”. ICANN will discuss the issue in Nairobi, Kenya in March.

The meeting is likely to be lightly attended, due to the ongoing threat of terrorism against the venue.