IEDR questions credibility of porn study


28 Jun 2004

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

The IE Domain Registry has raised questions over the methodology and credibility of a study by a leading US security software vendor, which claims that some 60,800 individual pages within the ‘.ie’ domain contain pornography. At present there are less than 40,000 .ie domains, of which only 31,417 have websites.

It is understood that the study, which was released last week, caused red faces in the Irish internet community, and at the IEDR particularly. The study by Fortune 500 security software company Secure Computing, which found over 46m pages of pornography among the top 100 individual country suffixes, listed Ireland in 22nd place out of 41 European countries. Germany, the UK and the Netherlands topped the list.

In a statement on Friday, the IEDR said: “The IE Domain Registry, the company responsible for managing the registration of .ie domain names, is aware of a survey by a US company on website pornography. We are, however, not aware of the credibility or methodology behind the survey.

“The IEDR is a managed registry. This means that every company or organisation that registers a .ie domain goes through a rigorous procedure of checks and authentication. Under the terms and conditions of registration the proposed domain name must not be offensive or contrary to public policy or generally accepted principles of morality.

“The IEDR has 39,000 registered domains and, together with website industry in Ireland, makes every effort to ensure the inoffensive nature of .ie domain names.”

According to data contained on whoisireland.com, a site that monitors and tracks Irish domain registrations and websites, this morning there were some 39,342 .ie domains being tracked of which 37,451 domains were active.

Informed sources in the internet community have also cast doubt on the credibility of the claim, indicating that Ireland has only 39,000 registered domains under the ‘.ie’ domain. Said one source: “There would be anything between 250,000 and 1m actually ‘live’ pages linking from these domains. Of these, perhaps more than 150,000 pages would be within two clicks of the front page of a web site. Secure Computing’s methodology is to trawl Google for the words ‘porn’ or ‘pornography’ and claim pages that these are listed on as actual porn pages, whereas the words could simply appear within the content of a news article or a conversation on a message board. Some web designers use words like ‘sex’ and ‘porn’ as keywords in meta text. Therefore, a page that legitimately exists could have actually nothing to do with the subjects of sex and porn.

“To do a proper survey would be a lot more complex. Secure Computing portray this as a global study, but they exclude the .com and .net domains, where most of the real pornography content exists”, the source said, claiming that Secure Computing’s survey was nothing more than an attempt to sell its SmartFilter Control List software.

David Burt, public relations manager for Secure Computing, in a phone conversation with siliconrepublic.com defended the survey. “We are trying to promote the fact that porn is an international problem. Countries are trying to restrict the spread of porn in their countries and we are trying to show them that they can address that with a filtering product that could cover an entire domain rather than simply a country.”

Describing the company’s methodology for counting the pages of porn per domain, Burt said that using a Google advanced search the company was able to get the number of sites. “The average number of pages per site internationally is 200 pages. Based on our calculations (60,000 pages divided by 200) we estimate that there are some 300 registered sites with porn within the .ie domain name.”

However, siliconrepublic.com employed the methodology used by Secure Computing, by searching the word ‘porn’ within the ‘.ie’ domain on Google’s advanced search option, and it turned up only 7,350 pages. Secure Computing has yet to respond to the IEDR’s statement on its survey.

By John Kennedy