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Type: Non-profit organization
Industry: Domain Industry
Headquarters: 919 18th Street, NW Suite 925

Washington, DC 20006

Country: USA
Website: iffor.org
Key People
Clyde Beattie, Chairman
Kieren McCarthy, Executive Director

International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR) is the sponsoring organization for the .xxx sponsored top level domain name (sTLD) which was approved by the ICANN Board on March 18, 2011.[1] It is responsible for creating policies for of the .xxx registry, which is ICM Registry. IFFOR is a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. and its operations is independent although it will be funded through a $10 per domain registration from the ICM Registry.

TLD Policy Consultancy Expansion

IFFOR was formed to act as the sponsoring organization for ICM Registry's .xxx, and act as a developer for specialized domain policy with regards to the safety and security of .xxx, its content, and its access, but in January 2013 the organization expanded its interest and announced its availability as a consultant for any new gTLD applicants. In an opinion piece from IFFOR Executive Director and independent blogger, Kieren McCarthy, it was noted that the uncertainty with how ICANN will treat contractual compliance in regards to stated goals and aims in a given TLD application means that it will be imperative for applicants to consider how their target industry will need to be explicitly or implicitly catered to with specialized registration policies and other mechanisms. He predicts the universal need for "industry-specific considerations, freedom of speech protections, sensitive content restrictions, ombudsman services, and enhanced compliance systems, procedures and auditing", and notes that "As a professional, independent and experienced policy maker, whose policies have been highly regarded, IFFOR represents an ideal opportunity for companies to outsource their policy needs to an expert body, whether that is: limiting registration to specific groups or individuals; registrant verification; content labeling; or privacy and security protections."[2]

Mr. McCarthy was promoted to Executive Director in conjunction with the announced launch of the "Policy Engine" consultancy services, whereas current Executive Director Joan Irvine moved to a consulting role.[3]


Board Members

Originally, Stuart Lawley, president of ICM Registry, was the chairman of the IFFOR Board, however, due to continuous criticism regarding his conflict of interests, he relinquished his position as chairman of the board. Clyde Beattie, former Manager of the CIRA for .ca replaced him. Other members of the board include Sébastien Bachollet, CEO BBS Consulting/ ALAC Representative to the ICANN Board and Sheri Falco, ICM General Counsel.[4]

Policy Council

The Policy Council is responsible in developing programs, selection criteria and procedures to achieve and promote the organization's policy goals including the selection of recipients for its grants program. It is to also consist of self-forming and self-administering stakeholder groups, such as Sponsored Community (SCSG), Free Expression (FESG), Child Advocacy (CASG) and Privacy And Security (PASSG). The Policy council is comprised of 5 members from the sponsored community, 2 members selected by the IFFOR Board, 1 child safety expert, 1 free expression expert, 1 privacy and security expert and 1 ICM representative.[5]

The members of the Policy Council were named in June and August of 2011. They were:[6] [7]

  • Professor Nadine Strossen- former president of American Civil Union Liberties (ACLU); (Freedom of Expression representative)
  • Sharon Girling- former British Law Enforcement Officer (Child Protection representative)
  • Fred Cate- Law Professor (Privacy and Security representative)
  • Jerry Barnett- Managing Director of Strictly Broadband (Sponsored Community representative)
  • Florian Sitta- Head, Legal Dept of the German porn retailer Beate Uhse (Sponsored Community representative)
  • Trieu Hoang- Counsel for AbbyWinters.com (Sponsored Community representative)
  • Chad Bellville - U.S. based Lawyer (Sponsored Community representative)
  • Andy Kayton- General Counsel for WebPower (Sponsored Community representative)


Policy Goals

As the policy making body for the .xxx sTLD, IFFOR enumerated the following policy goals:[8]

  • Foster communication between the Sponsored Community and other Internet stakeholders
  • Protect free expression rights as defined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights
  • Promote the development and adoption of responsible business practices designed to combat online child abuse images, user choice and parental control regarding access to online adult entertainment
  • Protect the privacy, security, and consumer rights of consenting adult consumers of online adult entertainment goods and services

Fight Against Piracy, Filtering & Child Abuse Images

The organization also aims to conduct various activities to fight the proliferation of child abuse materials, piracy, and Internet censorship.[9] During the first meeting of the Policy Council on December 5, 2011, IFFOR tackled these issues and established working groups such as:[10]

  • Piracy Working Group- Tasked to evaluate the current situation situation of internet piracy and develop strategies to prevent it. Trieu Hoang was appointed chairman of the working group.
  • Filtering Working Group- Responsible for examining the global filtering laws and regulations and help educate lawmakers about the benefits of user-defined filtering as opposed to mandated ISP or router-level blocking. The group will be led by Jerry Barnett.

IFFOR's fight against child abuse images will be carried out through the Child Advocacy Stakeholder Group led by Sharon Girling Obe.

IFFOR Taxes and .xxx Registration Volume

Research into the 2012 tax return filed by IFFOR inevitably raised questions about the number of registrations that ICM Registry is paying to IFFOR, given that the registry is supposed to be giving its sponsoring organization $10 per .xxx registration. Registration figures from December 2011 put the .xxx registry at 106,549 domains registered, with an additional 80,000 one time blocked domains, while IFFOR only reported revenue of $208,000. Questions raised from this include: Why did IFFOR not publicly raise the issue of substantial missing payment; Is ICM violating its contract with ICANN by not explicitly following its agreement with IFFOR; Is ICM only giving $10 to IFFOR for a certain type of registration, if so, which type and when was this decided? If it is true that ICM is only paying IFFOR for registrations from within the adult community, for which IFFOR is the sponsoring organization, then this means that the large part of .xxx registrations are from outside the community, i.e., defensive registrations. This issue was brought to light via an article by Michael Berkens, the tax return was obtained by George Kirikos.[11]