Letter from Jonas Bjelfvenstam to Paul Twomey
Ministry of Industry, Employment and
State Secretary for Communications and Regional Policy
Dear Dr. Twomey,
First, let me thank you for the opportunity to discuss Internet matters with you at our meeting here in Stockholm October 6, 2003. Internet matters are also the reason for me addressing you now.
I have followed recent discussions by the Board of Directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) concerning the proposed top level domain (TLD) .xxx. I appreciate that the Board has deferred further discussions on the subject to its next meeting on September 15, 2005, taking account of requests from the applicant ICM, as well as the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Chairman's and the US Department of Commerce's request to allow for additional time for comments by interested parties.
Sweden strongly supports the ICANN mission and the process making ICANN an organisation independent of the US Government. We appreciate the achievements of ICANN in the outstanding technical and innovative development of the Internet, an ICANN exercising open, transparent and multilateral procedures.
The technical development has also been a prerequisite to the enormous expansion of the quantity of pornography. This has made it easier to mainstream and normalize pornography and references to it in public spaces, like the Internet, in commercials and in the media in general. If pornographic material was hard to find earlier the situation is the opposite today - people have difficulties avoiding it.
The Swedish line on pornography is that it is not compatible with the gender equality goals. The constant exposure of pornography and degrading pictures in our everyday lives normalizes the exploitation of women and children and the pornography industry profits on the documentation.
A TLD dedicated for pornography might increase the volume of pornography on the Internet at the same time as foreseen advantages with a dedicated TLD might not materialize. These and other comments have been made in the many comments made directly to ICANN through the ICANN web site. There are a considerable amount of negative reactions within and outside the Internet community.
I know that all TLD applications are dealt with in procedures open to everyone for comment. However, in a case like this, where public interests clearly are involved, we feel it could have been appropriate for ICANN to request advice from GAC. Admittedly, GAC could have given advice to ICANN anyway at any point in time of the process and to my knowledge, no GAC members have raised the question before the GAC meeting July 9 - 12, 2005, in Luxembourg. However, we all probably rested assure that ICANN's negative opinion on .xxx, expressed in 2000, would stand.
From the ICANN decision on June 1, 2005, there was too little time for GAC to have an informed discussion on the subject at its Luxembourg summer meeting. One month would be to short time for governments independently on the subject matter. In this specific case, several countries raised serious concerns at the GAC meeting. However, there were to little information at hand to have an informed and fruitful discussion and hence no conclusions were reached on the subject.
Therefore we would ask the ICANN Board to postpone conclusive discussions on .xxx until after the upcoming GAC meeting in November 29 - 30, 2005, in Vancouver. That would give the GAC an opportunity to have an informed discussion on the subject. In due time before that meeting it would be helpful if ICANN could present in detail how it means that .xxx fulfils the criteria set in advance ("criteria for Independent Evaluators").
cc: Dr. Vinton Cerf (Senior Vice President, Technology
Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi (GAC Chairman)