You know something's gone a little loopy in the world when Mother Jones comes out in favor of creating a special ghetto for racy online speech, and the Family Research Council is opposed, but that seems to be how the teams are lining up on the Cyber Safety For Kids Act of 2006, which would resurrect the ".xxx" top level domain that ICANN, under pressure from the Bush Administration, put the kibosh on last year.
Weirdly, the FRC recognizes that the bill's attempt to force adult content out of other domains and into the .xxx TLD would be highly constitutionally suspect—while also stressing that what they really want to do is get the smut offline entirely. I hope the problems with a scheme to force certain content deemed "harmful to minors" into one TLD—as opposed to merely providing one more domain as an option—are fairly obvious: All the usual problems with making these kinds of determinations about content are compounded online, where information is equally accessible to communities all over the globe, with radically different standards for what counts as "indecent" or "obscene." But there's the additional problem that it was a bad thing for the administration to interfere with ICANN's determination to establish .xxx, and it's a bad idea for Congress to interfere here too. We're bound to once again see calls to create some more international Internet governance body as observers worry that the U.S. is exploiting ICANN's presence in U.S. jurisdiction to dictate policy to the rest of the Net. And you have to wonder: What happens when some of the many adult .com sites located overseas, outside the reach of U.S. law, decide they don't want to move?