27th Oct 2016

EU accuses US of political influence over porn site vote

  • Viviane Reding's spokesman says Washington interfered in the vote over the porn site (Photo: European Community, 2006)

The European Commission has accused the US of political intervention over a decision by the internet addressing system to reject a top level domain devoted to pornography.

The US-based board of international domain names regulator ICANN on Thursday (11 May) turned down a longstanding proposal to set up a .xxx domain for pornographic material by 9 to 5 votes.

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The formal decision to adopt the domain was delayed last year which led to international criticism over the way Washington used its veto power in the board to influence the internet registrations.

While supporters of the domain argued it would have made it easier to confine sex sites or filter them out, several conservative religious groups complained it would legitimise the porn industry.

The exact details of how the board members voted will only be unveiled later this month, but internet pioneer Vint Cerf from the US and ICANN chairman Paul Twomey from Australia reportedly voted against the proposal.

The EU has reacted with dismay to the decision.

"We see here a clear case of political interference in ICANN," said a spokesman for Viviane Reding, the EU information society commissioner, according to Reuters.

He added "It's a worrying development that the US administration has interfered in this process."

But Mr Twomey argued the accusations were "completely ill-founded and ignorant," pointing out that other countries - such as the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Brazil and Australia - had also complained about the pornography domain plan.

The Australian government backed up its claim on Thursday in a statement welcoming the decision by ICANN to block the establishment of a .xxx domain.

"This is a positive outcome that has prevented the creation of a domain that could have acted as a haven for illegal and offensive content," Senator Helena Coonan, Australia's minister for communications, stated according to ITWire.

At a summit in Tunis last November, Washington prevented any changes in the control of the domain-name system and its links to the US Commerce Department, despite pressure by some countries for a global body to manage the addressing system.

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