It’s a new, digital red light district—a designated space for porn on the Internet. But the new triple-x domain name is driving mainstream companies and organizations to go on the defensive.
“Pornography drives much of technology, and always has. As such, there’s money to be made,” said Quinnipiac University’s Richard Hanley.
Or money at risk if you’re a major brand name. Just think of what could happen with “disney.xxx.” And remember www.whitehouse.com? It was a porn site that stuck in the craw of the real ]White House for years.
“The more valuable a brand is, the more everyone wants to try to copy you, try to piggyback off your name, take it over or whatever they can. Which only means that to be a valuable brand, you need to protect it,” said Belinda Lang, Aetna’s Head of Brand, Advertising and Consumer Marketing.
Lang said the company is doing everything it can—even snapping up misspellings of its famous moniker—to make sure potentially unscrupulous porn purveyors can’t make a buck off their brand.
Schools are also doing it, Yale and UConn among them. Check it out for yourself. Just try typing in “yalegirls.xxx” or “huskies.xxx.” You’ll get a black screen that reads “reserved from registration.”
But while companies are protecting themselves, who’s protecting your kids when they log online? Some are concerned .xxx is a billboard, putting porn just a click away for children.
“I think it’d be way easier for kids to go on that,” said one woman, “I’m pretty sure your mother or father is not home all the time, and right there, you’re in.”
“I think it is already extremely easy for children to find adult content online and I think it’s up to parents to be responsible in terms of what their kids are accessing,” said another mother.
But the software you already have at home may not be enough to block out these new sites. ICM Registry, the company in charge of doling out the domains, said they’re offering a free family-safety add-on parents can download to filter out .xxx pages. But so far, that software is only available on certain internet browsers.
It’s all another battle for the frontiers of the still very Wild West of the Web.
Expect to see more battles over domain names in the future. ICANN is accepting applications for generic top-level domains, things like .yale and .aetna. It’s no longer just .com. And for those of you who may be wondering, NBC Connecticut has purchased NBCConnecticut.xxx.