(CNN) – The Internet is the grapevine. A Vatican spokesman’s comments on radio this week led news organizations to report that the Vatican had lost its bid for Vatican.xxx, a coupling of the Vatican and the “.xxx” extension now reserved for pornographic content.
“This domain is not available because it has been acquired by someone else, but not the Vatican,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi said on Vatican radio.
But that turns out not to be the case. On the contrary, the domain is reserved specifically for no one.
“Vatican.xxx is a name that is on the permanent reserve list, so it was pulled out of the registry before the launch,” said Jocelyn Johnson, a representative for ICM Registry, the company operating the new dot-triple-X domain as a voluntary option for pornographic sites.
“No one is able to purchase that name,” she said.
Hijacking names for websites is an all-too-common practice.
For example, “the Democrats own Newtgingrich.com,” said the Rev. Tom Reese, referring to a site that redirects, in one instance, to an article titled, “Gingrich ‘Inadvertently’ Names Porn Company ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ For Stimulating the Economy.”
Schoolchildren searching for whitehouse.com on the internet found porn in the late 1990s, and “the bottom line is it’s almost impossible to protect yourself from this kind of stuff,” said Reese, a Jesuit at Georgetown University.
“There are too many possible domain names,” he said.
“Vatican girls.xxx, Vatican sluts.xxx, it’s almost infinite – to say nothing of all the obscene words you can put together and all the words not only after but before Vatican. It’s just an impossible task to defend yourself from this kind of stuff,” he said.
The ICM Registry developed the dot-triple-X domain to provide a compromise between those who wish to provide access to pornographic material and those who wish to prevent access to it.