Symposium: A Cyberspace Perspective on Governance, Standards and Control

Internet Red Light Districts: A Domain Name Proposal for Regulatory Zoning of Obscene Content


April Mara Major


VOL. XVI • Fall 1997 • NO. 1 (table of contents)

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16 John Marshall J. of Comp. & Info. Law 21


The author argues that the Internet must be regulated in order to ensure stability to the Internet community and viability as a communications medium. She offers two proposals: (1) the "secondary effect" of the Internet destroying its own legitimacy satisfies a substantial governmental need for zoning regulation as set forth in several cases; and (2) the most effective way to implement such zoning regulation is to reinforce accepted Internet standards, specifically the domain naming system.

The author explains the difficulty in comparing the Internet to other media. Then the she explains the domain name system, e.g., the domain hierarchies, and the need for Internet governance. Next, the author describes a possible solution to regulating pornography, namely, to add ".sex" or ".obs" to domain names to indicate that this domain contains obscene material.

The author briefly discusses Reno v. ACLU, where the Supreme Court held that the Communications Decency Act was unconstitutional, and explains why the domain name proposal introduced in this paper is constitutional. This explanation summarizes City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters and Young v. American Mini Theaters to further support her argument. The author also argues that her proposal is not vague or overbroad.

A brief discussion of Miller v. California provides the modern test for obscenity. The author also lists several issues that emerge from her recommended zoning proposal, e.g., what content belongs in the .obs domain. The conclusion emphasizes that the article's focus is the importance of governance.

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