Pornography will have its own top-level domain, dot-XXX, the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers decided Friday.

The proposal was made under ICANN’s rules for “sponsored” TLDs, through which domains have been created by interest groups including the aeronautical industry (dot-aero) and the cooperative movement (dot-coop).

ICM Registry, the company that proposed the dot-XXX domain, welcomed the vote.

“It’s been a long time coming,” ICM Chairman Stuart Lawley said in a statement, adding that he is “excited” by the move.

“The decision should soon bring to fruition our six-year effort to create a specific Web address for online adult entertainment, and comes on the heels of an independent review that declared that ICANN’s previous decision to deny dot-xxx was wrong,” he said.

ICM Registry says it is a “completely independent entity with no affiliation, current or historic, with the adult entertainment industry.”

That claim of independence gave ICANN board member Rita Rodin Johnston pause for thought. “I still question whether, in fact, there is a real sponsored community here,” she said in the board-meeting debate before the vote.

However, she went on to vote in favor of the new domain, saying that despite her personal reservations about the proposal, she felt obliged to by ICANN’s decision-making process. “It really doesn’t matter what I think. What’s important is that ICANN has a process that it set up and the process came back and said that sponsorship criterion was met, and that this board has the courage to follow that criterion,” she said.

Dot-XXX domains won’t start appearing right away. ICANN must first conduct a “due diligence” study of ICM’s business plan for the domain, and then the board will review the contract proposed for the operation of the domain. That may involve referring the matter to ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, which is next scheduled to meet in December in Colombia, said board member Bruce Tonkin.

“There is a potential that this is a prolonged process,” he said.

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