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Status: Delegated
country: International
Manager: ICM Registry
Date Implemented: 18 April 2015
Type: Community gTLD
Category: Lifestyle
Community: Adult Entertainment Community
Priority #: 1665 - Internet Marketing Solutions Limited
1805 - ICM Registry

More information: NTLDStatsLogo.png

.sex is a new generic top level domain name (gTLD) delgated in ICANN's new gTLD expansion program, which is intended for the use adult entertainment community. The proposed application succeeded and was delegated to the Root Zone on 18 April, 2015.[1]

Current Applicant

  1. ICM Registry - The application for the domain name string was submitted by ICM Registry, operator of the .xxx gTLD. Stuart Lawley, CEO of the company, said that if the .sex TLD will be approved, all domain names registered under the .xxx gTLD will be grandfathered and matching names will be reserved under the .sex gTLD without any cost to owners of the domain names. However, a nominal fee will be charged if the owner of a particular reserved .sex domain name decides to activate and use it. [2]

Previous Applicant

  1. Internet Marketing Solutions Limited

Private Deal between Applicants

In July 2014, ICM Registry and Internet Marketing Solutions Ltd struck a private deal which saw the latter company withdraw its application for .sex, making ICM Registry the sole applicant for the string.[3]

Previous Legislative Proposal on .Sex TLD

In 2005, Michael Smigiel Sr., a lawmaker from the State of Maryland proposed a bill to develop a .sex TLD, which shall be used by adult websites operating within the state in order to protect minors without violating anybody's constitutional rights.[4]

Controversy and Objections

Christian group Morality In Media launched a letter-writing campaign in July 2012 against ICM's three new TLD applications, .adult, .sex, and .porn. The group also protested against .xxx, ICM's original TLD. The group claims that its prediction about .xxx, that it would create more porn and not less, has been vindicated, as porn sites under the .com TLD have not moved to .xxx, and additional new sites have been created under the .xxx extension.[5] With its campaign, MIM asked the U. S. Government and Congress and ICANN to take action against the spread of porn under the Internet by not allowing the three new TLDs into the root zone.[6]

Saudi Arabia's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) filed an objection against the TLD, on the grounds that it would increase the proliferation of pornographic material on the Internet.[7]

European Commission Communiqué

The European Commission flagged the application for .bio outside of ICANN's defined remediation processes.

Just after ICANN's GAC issued its Early Warnings, which are advice given from one GAC member country to an applicant warning it of potential issues within its application, the European Commission issued a letter to all applicants within the new gTLD program. The letter highlights 58 applications that "could raise issues of compatibility with the existing legislation .. and/or with policy positions and objectives of the European Union." It notes a desire to open a dialogue with each offending applicant.

The Commission specifically notes that this objection is not a part of the GAC Early Warning process, and goes on to note that "the Commission does not consider itself legally bound to [ICANN] processes," given that there is not legal agreement between the two bodies.[8][9]

Independent Objector

The Independent Objector is responsible for determining if a new gTLD application is in the best interest of the Internet community. If not, he or she will file formal objections against a new gTLD application. Alain Pellet, a law professor from the University of Paris and a former member of the United Nations International Law Commission and International Court of Justice, was chosen by ICANN to serve as the sole independent objector for the New gTLD Program in May, 2012. [10] The position was created by ICANN in accordance with the implementation of the New gTLD Program. As defined, the IO may be an individual or organization and must not be affiliated with any applicant and must carry out their responsibility without bias.[11]

In December 2012 Mr. Pellet released his first correspondence on actual TLDs, commenting on so-called "Controversial strings". Those strings include: .adult, .sex, .porn, .sexy, .hot, .gay, .lgbt, .persiangulf, .vodka, and .wtf. A string seemed to have been deemed "controversial" by Mr. Pellet if it received a substantial amount of objections during the public comment period. He addresses each TLD separately and at length, noting the objection, and turning to International law and precedent to determine whether an objection from his point of view, of defending the public interest, is warranted. In each case he concludes that the objections are not supported by international law and that regional, cultural, and personal issues influence the objections rather than broadly accepted treaties, laws, or international cultural trends. He has reserved the right to later object to the strings, but at that time it was deemed that the "controversial strings" are in fact not offensive to the greater public interest and Internet users.[12]

With regards to .sex, and the other sex related applications, the Independent Objector notes that most all objections raise concerns about greater space created for pornographic material, and cite moral, religious, or cultural issues with this fact. Mr. Pellet notes that there is no singular international consensus on the morality of pornographic material and it is one decided by local governments with regards to domestic perceptions and cultural and moral norms. He goes on to note that the creation of a .adult TLD could have the effect of clearly labeling pornographic material, thereby making it easier for offended people to avoid or block such content. He notes that the only widely accepted international norm and treaties on the matter that overlap specifically address the harm or exploitation of children, including with regards to sexual or pornographic scenarios. However, he notes that there is no reason to believe that the creation of a .adult TLD will make it easier to disseminate material that offends in this regard, and it could even prove to more closely regulate pornography and potentially offensive material.[13]