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I've been working on various methods to block content from my home network and realizing all the holes in my schemes. But it occurred to me that it would be pretty simple if all the porn was on .xxx because then I could just force all network traffic on my network to use my DNS server never serve out the name for something that resolves to .xxx (I know this doesn't solve the "safe search" problem, but one thing at a time)

But I was talking with my wife about it and we were wondering if or why it might be a non-starter to lobby my Congressperson to do that. It doesn't seem to me that the tld is tantamount to free speech, you can't get a .edu or .gov tld if you aren't associated with those orgs, couldn't you be forced to have a .xxx tld if you are associated with certain organizations?

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    What happens to the millions of porn sites outside of US jurisdiction? Or ones that are hosted outside of the country? I think this is akin to limiting free speech... – Ron Beyer Jan 22 at 23:23
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    Preventing an entity from registering a domain name in some TLD is quite different from mandating that it register in a given TLD. The mechanism that prevents porn sites from registering .edu or .gov domain names would have to be applied to every other TLD aside from .xxx, and as @RonBeyer suggests, that would be difficult to enforce for TLDs that fall outside US jurisdiction. So I think the answer is no, but I'll leave it to someone who knows more about this than I do to post an actual answer. – phoog Jan 22 at 23:35
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    .com and .org are ultimately registered by US companies (and there are other TLDs that are as well), so such a ban could have some teeth even if all other countries disregarded it. I think there are three questions here - whether or not the TLD of a site, as part of its domain name, is protected speech, if it is whether or not the law passes strict scrutiny, and if it is not then whether or not the law places an undue burden on companies. – IllusiveBrian Jan 22 at 23:44
  • @phoog, I could also block all tlds that fall outside the US jurisdiction, so that'd at least solve my problem. – Peter Turner Jan 23 at 4:58
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I think such a law would be hard to sustain against a constitutional challenge in the US. First of all, who would be charged with determining if a given site was "a porn site" required to use an .XXX domain. That might get into a whole host of "censorship" issues.

Such a domain would be a form of labeling, and thus at least arguably a form of compelled speech. By making it easy to filter out such sites, it arguably denies them participation in a public forum based on their content.

Also, existing domain/site names have been treated as a form of property, and so there might be eminent domain issues when a site has spent significant resources in promoting a given URL.

But the only way to know for sure would be for such a law to be passed and then challenged in court. I predict that no such law will be passed in the first place, but I've been surprised by Congress before.

  • Taking the property argument a step farther, liquor stores (even advertisements) and porn shops are often required to be situated a generous distance away from schools. If the government assumes the role of supplying children with Internet devices, isn't there a similar claim to be made by any school district against any website that might contribute to the moral turpitude of a minor? – Peter Turner Jan 23 at 5:07
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    @Peter Turner I don't think your analogy holds. Physical proximity makes a regulation of 'time place and manner" at least arguable. But all sites on the net are equally adjacent to schools or children. The case of Reno v. ACLU which struck down much of the "Communications Decency Act" would seem to be squarely on point. The zoning analogy was urged by the government in Reno and not accepted by the Court. – David Siegel Jan 23 at 5:20
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Can you unambiguously, legally, and conclusively determine what is and is not a "porn site"?
I'm sure many are easy... but what about that "Swimsuit modeling" site, or the "Artistic Nudes" site featuring classic French Renaissance paintings? There will always be a grey area.

What makes a "site" in a legal sense?
Consider all the blog sites filled with user generated content: If just a few pages out of tens-of-thousands are hardcore, indisputable porn, would you require the entire domain to be classified XXX, even if 99% of its content is completely innocent?

Who would enforce this?
Are you proposing an "Internet Police" force to review all new domain names and their content before they get approved? That is called "Prior Restraint on Free Speech", and is established law.

Suppose a site does get approved, then immediately changes the content of their pages from Cooking Recipes to hard-core porn. Who is going to review and approve every update to every website, when sites are updated constantly?!

Maybe you're proposing that any individual who finds porn on a .ORG site has the right to sue for damages? This would likely clog the courts with endless vigilante lawsuits about what content belongs on which domain.

This is a flat out horrible, poorly thought out idea.

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