Mormon anti-pornography activists led by SCO Group chairman Ralph Yarro III are calling on ICANN to give more political clout to those who want to kick porn off the web.
Scores of Yarro’s followers have this week petitioned ICANN to OK the formation of a new “Cybersafety Constituency” which would help develop binding policies for the internet’s domain name system.
The drive is being orchestrated by Cheryl Preston, the top lawyer for CP80.org, an “Internet Zoning” censorship campaign headed by Yarrow, who is also the chairman and largest shareholder of controversial Linux vendor SCO.
CP80.org wants all adult material banned from Port 80, the standard protocol port for the web, and confined to a new port. It also suggests that “ISPs could simply block all IP addresses originating from a non-compliant country”.
ICANN is responsible for managing internet port and IP address allocations globally.
Preston told ICANN last December that the Cybersafety Constituency would represent “the interests of families, children, consumers, victims of cybercrime, religions and cultures”.
If approved, it would have equivalent policy-making power to existing ICANN constituencies such as intellectual property interests, ISPs and non-commercial domain name owners.
While Preston had previously disclosed her affiliations to ICANN, her petition for the new constituency does not mention any of CP80.org’s radical policies concerning the internet’s fundamental architecture.
ICANN has asked for comments on the proposal here. So far, the vast majority of commenters support the move, and a majority of those are identikit stock letters, written by and sent at the request of Yarrow.
“[T]his new constituency will represent the first moral voice in creating non legislative policies for the protection of families and children online,” Yarro told his flock, urging them to send cut-and-paste messages of support to ICANN.
The large majority of commenters giving physical addresses or phone numbers appear to be located in the Mormon stronghold of Utah.
Several supporters using Yarro’s letter also make explicit reference to “clean” internet “ports” or to CP80.org itself. Neither “ports” nor CP80.org are referred to in Preston’s Cybersafety Constituency proposal.
One commenter told ICANN this morning: “It is becoming clear to me that the religious fruitcakes are intent on interfering with every netizen's right to horseporn.”
But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knows whereof it speaks. Utah is 58 per cent Mormon, and according to a recent study has the highest consumption of internet pornography of any US state, boasting an average of 5.47 porn subscriptions per 1,000 broadband users. ®