Syracuse University School of Information Studies Professor Milton Mueller was quoted in a recent Tech News Daily blog post about the recent Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) controversial decision to add .xxx addresses for adult entertainment web sites.
Ten years ago, ICANN first started including industry-sponsored additions to existing domains like .com, .edu, and .gov. Mueller said he believes the inclusion of .xxx will result in increased censorship of the Internet by governments that already restrict the freedom of speech and expression.
“ICANN still has this naive view that they should make decisions about [top level domains] TLDs that will make it unnecessary for governments to regulate or censor web sites,” said Mueller, who is a founding member of the academic think-tank Internet Governance Project. “Calling .xxx the canary in the coal mine is a good way to put it.”
ICANN has stated that the addition of .xxx will help consumers find safe adult entertainment sites that comply with industry standards and also help parents filter adult content away from children. In addition to Mueller’s fears of censorship, the creation of .xxx is not sponsored or supported by much of the adult entertainment industry, which according to adult entertainment industry representatives is a deviation from previous TLD additions that generally had support of the industry for which it was created.
“ICANN made a ton of mistakes on the way to .xxx,” Mueller said to Tech News Daily. This process “has taught ICANN that it needs to be more aware of the consequences of its actions not just in a technical sense, and less naive about how it interacts with government.”
Mueller earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989. He teaches and researches the political economy of communication and information, encompassing his most recent projects exploring the efforts of citizens and activists to shape communication and information policy, both globally and nationally. His acclaimed book Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace (MIT Press, 2002) was the first scholarly account of the Internet governance debates. His book, Universal Service: Competition, Interconnection and Monopoly in the Making of the American Telephone System (MIT Press, 1997), set out a dramatic revision of society’s understanding of the origins of universal telephone service and the role of interconnection in industry development.