Revenge of the .xxx domain?

In what may prove to be the biggest sleeper Internet governance issue of the year, ICM Registry has publicly posted its filings for the Independent Review Panel that will decide whether ICANN acted improperly in rejecting its application for a .xxx domain. ICM Registry participated in ICANN's 2004 round of “sponsored” top level domain additions. Its application to run a top level domain reserved for adult content provoked a global controversy when the Bush Administration, responding to a mass mobilization from its base of religious conservative groups, pressured ICANN to reverse its June 1, 2005 vote that the .xxx domain met its eligibility criteria. ICANN's Board eventually killed the application in March of 2007.

This is the first usage of ICANN's Independent Review Process. The ruling in this case will have major implications for ICANN's accountability and the continuing controversy over the role of the U.S. government in ICANN's affairs.

The documents posted on the ICM site contain witness reports from the ICANN consultant, Liz Williams, who presided over one of the expert panels evaluating the .xxx application. Her testimony contains an eye-opening accusation that extreme external pressure was brought to bear on ICANN CEO Paul Twomey by the U.S. and Australian governments, as well as a statement that it was “inconsistent” and “discriminatory” for ICANN to reject .xxx without also rejecting proposed sponsored TLDs such as .jobs, .asia, .mobi and .travel.

The site also includes witness statements from Stuart Lawley (ICM Registry's CEO) and Becky Burr, (former Commerce Department official and ICM's lawyer during the application process) as well as independent expert reports from Harvard Professor Jack Goldsmith and Syracuse University's Dr. Milton Mueller. Mueller is a member of IGP's Scientific Committee.

Relevant URLs:
ICM Registry: .xxx Filing Page
IGP Blog: Does ICANN Still Keep Some Things Hidden?
IGP Blog: Judge Says We Can't Look Inside US .XXX deliberations
IGP Blog: ICANN kills .xxx, USG ordered to turn over related documents
IGP Blog: The Triple-X TLD: The Beauty Contest from Hell

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