A defined red light district for the web?

Porn sites have stepped closer to a new ".xxx" internet address after the global internet oversight agency said it made mistakes in rejecting it three years ago.

The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, says it will now start the process of registering ".xxx" by making checks on ICM Registry LLC, the company that wants to run it.

ICANN says its 2007 refusal to accept the suffix was "not consistent with the application of neutral, objective and fair documented policy."

The company first proposed the ".xxx" domain in 2000, and ICANN has rejected it three times since then.

ICM chairman Stuart Lawley welcomed ICANN's decision.

"It's been a long time coming, but I'm excited about the fact that .xxx will soon become a reality. This is great news."

He said the decision should soon bring to fruition the company's six-year effort to create a specific web address for online adult entertainment, and came on the heels of an independent review that declared that ICANN's previous decision to deny .xxx was wrong.

ICM Registry would now work with ICANN staff to complete due diligence on its technical and financial qualifications and to finalise the contract to run .xxx.

"Our expectation is that this step will proceed smoothly and will not impede the roll-out of .xxx, and we expect to go live with .xxx domains at the start of 2011, if not sooner," Lawley said.

"We have 110,000 pre-reservations, and expect that number to increase now that ICANN has formally approved our application."

In a statement, he outlined severall benefits to the .xxx decision, among them the fact that having all porn sites in one area of the internet would mean parents could filter the domain name so children could not access it.

However, registration using a .xxx address will be voluntary, and given there has been opposition to ICM's proposal from adult entertainment lobby groups it seems likely many sites will continue to operate on other domains. 

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