.sex Considered Dangerous
RFC 3675

Document Type RFC - Informational (February 2004; No errata)
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Network Working Group                                    D. Eastlake 3rd
Request for Comments: 3675                         Motorola Laboratories
Category: Informational                                    February 2004

                        .sex Considered Dangerous

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   Periodically there are proposals to mandate the use of a special top
   level name or an IP address bit to flag "adult" or "unsafe" material
   or the like.  This document explains why this is an ill considered
   idea from the legal, philosophical, and particularly, the technical
   points of view.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
   2.  Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
   3.  Legal and Philosophical Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   4.  Technical Difficulties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
       4.1.  Content Filtering Using Names. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
             4.1.1.  Linguistic Problems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
             4.1.2.  Explosion of Top Level Domain Names (TLDs) . . .  8
             4.1.3.  You Can't Control What Names Point At You! . . .  9
             4.1.4.  Particular Protocol Difficulties . . . . . . . . 10
                     4.1.4.1.  Electronic Mail (SMTP) . . . . . . . . 10
                     4.1.4.2.  Web Access (HTTP). . . . . . . . . . . 11
                     4.1.4.3.  News (NNTP). . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
                     4.1.4.4.  Internet Relay Chat (IRC). . . . . . . 13
       4.2.  Content Filtering Using IP Addressing. . . . . . . . . . 13
             4.2.1.  Hierarchical Routing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
             4.2.2.  IP Version 4 Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
             4.2.3.  IP Version 6 Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
       4.3.  PICS Labels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   5.  Security Considerations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
   6.  Conclusions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
   7.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Eastlake 3rd                 Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 3675               .sex Considered Dangerous           February 2004

       7.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
       7.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
   8.  Acknowledgement. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
   9.  Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
   10. Full Copyright Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

1.  Introduction

   Periodically there are proposals to mandate the use of a special top
   level name or an IP address bit to flag "adult" or "unsafe" material
   or the like.  This document explains why this is an ill considered
   idea from the legal, philosophical, and the technical points of view.

2.  Background

   The concept of a .sex, .xxx, .adult, or similar top-level domain in
   which it would be mandatory to locate salacious or similar material
   is periodically suggested by some politicians and commentators.
   Other proposals have included a domain reserved exclusively for
   material viewed as appropriate for minors, or using IP address bits
   or ranges to segregate content.

   In an October 1998 report accompanying the Child Online Protection
   Act, the House Commerce committee said, "there are no technical
   barriers to creating an adult domain, and it would be very easy to
   block all websites within an adult domain".  The report also said
   that the committee was wary of regulating the computer industry and
   that any decision by the U.S. government "will have international
   consequences" [HOUSEREPORT].

   British Telecom has backed adult top-level domains, saying in a 1998
   letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce that it "strongly
   supported" that plan.  The reason: "Sexually explicit services could
   then be legally required to operate with domain names in this gTLD
   [that] would make it much simpler and easier to control access to
   such sites..." [BT].  One of ICANN's progenitors, the GTLD-MOU
   committee, suggested a "red-light-zone" top-level domain in a
   September 1997 request for comment [GTLD-MOU].

   Some adult industry executives have endorsed the concept.  In 1998,
   Seth Warshavsky, president of the Internet Entertainment Group, told
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