An Internet version of a red light district opened as Web addresses with ''.xxx'' endings became available for purchase by those interested in providing online adult content.
Florida-based ICM Registry is overseeing the top-level domain (TLD) geared for adult entertainment and reported that it is seeing nearly a million visits daily to buy.xxx website showing where the addresses can be purchased.
"We've put a lot of money into this, and 10 years of blood, sweat and tears,'' ICM chief executive Stuart Lawley told AFP.
"I feel validated,'' he continued. "It has been a long struggle but we stuck to our guns and took the high road.''
The non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board in March approved a petition to add .xxx to the list of "generic top level domains,'' those endings that include .com, .net, and .org.
Lawley estimated between $10 million and $20 million were spent on the campaign, which began in the year 2000.
"Everything up to today has been the warm-up,'' Lawley said. "The marathon is on.''
He depicted the .xxx domain as "win, win, win'' since it creates an online district clearly marked for those intent on finding or avoiding adult content and which automatically scans websites for viruses or other malicious codes.
"That is a first; scanning doesn't happen at .com,'' Lawley said. `"Instead of adult sites being risky, they will be among the safest sites on the Internet.''
ICM enlisted anti-virus specialty firm McAfee to scan .xxx websites daily for nefarious software.
The sites are also designed with tags to be easily identified by parental filter features in commonly used Web browsers, according to Lawley.
Public sales of .xxx addresses come after ICM gave recognized brands and established adult entertainment industry players opportunities to secure websites related to their names.
Some popular web addresses such as gay.xxx were sold at auction. The gay.xxx address sold for several hundred thousand dollars, according to ICM.
The risque online neighborhood was opposed by some adult industry firms that feel they are compelled to buy new website addresses to avoid others capitalizing on their names and by conservative groups opposed to porn.
A lawsuit has been filed accusing ICM of taking advantage of its exclusive control of .xxx to jack up fees. Annual registry of a .xxx website is about $70 compared with $10 or so typical of other websites on the Internet.
"The lawsuit is clearly without merit and we will defend against it,'' Lawley said. "You can choose not to buy a new TLD.''