Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Max Baucus, (D-MT) have proposed a bill that would require all commercial websites with material "harmful to minors" (in other words, sexually explicit content) to move to a .xxx domain within 6 months of this bill becoming law -- or face civil penalties. Under the terms of the proposed law, the US Commerce Department secretary would be required to develop a domain name for adult sites (presumably .xxx) with ICANN. Snip from one news report:
Adult industry representatives say the bill if enacted would have a chilling effect on free speech. "This is constitutionally protected speech -- we're not talking about illegal content," said Tom Hymes, a spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, the trade association representing the adult entertainment industry.
The proposal is an ineffective approach to the problem since many of the adult Web sites are based outside the country and the civil penalties would not apply to them, he said. Hymes said the companies would find ways to circumvent the new designation, including moving their operations offshore. Instead, he proposed setting up a .kids domain name for children-friendly content.
The industry would incur costs from new registration fees and losses from existing marketing campaigns on .com and .biz domains, Hymes said, but he did not think it would get that far. "The likelihood is that this legislation would be challenged as being unconstitutional were it to go through," Hymes said.
Jason Schultz adds, "Talk about a misguided attempt at Internet zoning... also has severe implications for filtering as I'd imagine every .xxx domain would be on the universal black list."
Here's a PDF of the bill (Thanks, Jason Schultz!)