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[liberationtech] gTLDs and censorship

Steve Weis steveweis at
Wed Jun 22 09:17:09 PDT 2011

Short answer: Yes, it's trivial to filter specific TLDs, but it won't
matter unless laws requiring their use were strictly enforced.

Censorship was a motivation for the ".xxx" TLD, which went into
operation this year. The idea is that if all the porn sites were .xxx
domains, it would be easier to block them. In practice, porn sites may
voluntarily register a .xxx domain, but are still going to keep their
existing domains. Censors will add a filter to block all .xxx domains
and business will go on as usual.

Censoring .xxx will not make any difference unless porn sites are
legally required to use it. This was proposed by US Senators Mark
Pryor and Max Baucus in the "Cyber Safety for Kids Act", but it died
in committee. That's not surprising since it would be hard to enforce
and most likely challenged in court.

On Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 7:33 AM, Luke Allnutt <AllnuttL at> wrote:
> I wonder if the list members would be able to help me on something. I'm looking into the question of how new gTLDs could potentially affect censorship in repressive regimes. I have a few general questions:
> If you create very fine-grained TLDs will it be making it easier for governments to enforce blocking and censorship on those TLDs?
> Or would NGOs or activists steer clear of domains such as .freedom or .humanrights?
> Aren't generic, .com, .org, domains more difficult to block selectively without all kinds of collateral damage?
> Would anyone be able to offer any insight, either on list or off list. I'm just an interested journalist seeking expert advice. Any help would be hugely appreciated.

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