. "13 Problems with a Dot-XXX Domain." Technical, Business, and Legal Dimensions of Protecting Children from Pornography on the Internet: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2002.
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Technical, Business, and Legal Dimensions of Protecting Children from Pornography on the Internet: Proceedings of a Workshop
quirks and ideas regarding what sorts of things children should be allowed to access or the age at which children become adults. Going one step further, the concept of community has made it easier to develop standards, one way or another. But there are literally millions of communities.
Another category of problems is legal. If you require everyone who has a certain type of content to be in the dot-xxx name space, then you are, in effect, forcing speech on them. This seems to be a problem with respect to certain legal rights in the United States and some other countries. It obviously depends on the circumstances and whether this sort of speech is commercial or noncommercial, and so on. But, in effect, you are requiring people to label themselves, which runs into legal problems and effectively limits their free speech.
One difficulty in thinking about this sort of thing is the malleable nature of the Internet. Some parts of it are similar to commercial broadcast television, which, at least in the United States, currently has a system of labeling. But other parts of the Internet are more like someone strolling through a park and talking to whomever they bump into—activities that are entirely noncommercial, spontaneous, and unorganized. Imagine, if you are strolling through a property and bump into someone and you want to say something that some people could construe as objectionable, that you had to wear a large, yellow star. I think people would consider this to be objectionable. In some respects, labeling of Internet content could be considered similar to the yellow star.
Another category of problems is technical. The labeling system has to be realistic. The use of dot-xxx is not linguistically complicated. But if you try to label in an understandable way the various different axes of heresy or derogatory speech—whatever people object to—then you would have problems with the language from which to select the labeling. In addition, the Internet is not technically structured for things to be done in this way. The Internet has a hierarchically distributed control structure, so that one entity controls dot-com, for example, and other entities control the subzones below dot-com. There are multiple levels. Typically what is identified by one of these names is an IP address for some machine that can store data. Of course, we worry about causing a name to somehow correspond to some characteristic of the data in that machine. In fact, the people controlling these different name zones are likely to be independent organizations, and there is no way to stop other people from pointing at your material.
In other words, if you post material on a Web site with a name, there is no technical mechanism to stop someone else who has independent control of a different zone on the Internet from posting a pointer to your IP address under any name that they choose. If you have innocent mate-