Congress considers kid-friendly domain

Congress is again struggling with the problem of protecting children from inappropriate content on the Internet. The House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet has taken up the Dot-Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002 which, if enacted, will create a '.kids' second-level domain within the '.us' country-code top-level domain.

The bill is an attempt to tackle the problem of creating a kid-safe domain without running into First Amendment (freedom of speech) objections.

The Dot-Kids Bill represents a modification from the original idea, which was to create a separate '.kids' generic top-level domain. However, the US Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) both opposed a separate top-level domain. ICANN dropped its objections when the approach was changed to make '.kids' a second-level domain within '.us'.

Late last year an official at the Commerce Department expressed concern about putting the department and ICANN in the role of setting and enforcing standards of appropriateness for content that is suitable for, and not harmful to, minors. The current version of the bill therefore removes the department from a content regulation role, assigning that responsibility to the '.kids' registrar.

Douglas Wood and Linda Goldstein, Hall Dickler Kent Goldstein & Wood LLP, New York

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