Neustar, the registry operator of the .US domain and NTIA have reversed course, allowing the inclusion of previously restricted “seven dirty words” from future .US domain name registrations. The decision came after EFF and the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School intervened in the cancelation of a domain name containing a restricted word. The domain name registered by Mr. Rubin was suspended by Neustar calling it a violation of an NTIA “seven dirty words” policy — “a phrase with particular First Amendment significance,” said EFF.
Cyberlaw Clinic explains in a blog post the significance of the case: “As a general rule, First Amendment law makes clear that the government cannot impose content-based restrictions on speech. The well-known case, Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978), held that the Federal Communications Commission (‘FCC’) may regulate over-the-air broadcasts of the so-called ‘seven dirty words’ comedic bit made famous by George Carlin. But, that ruling is limited to broadcasts over public airwaves and is inapplicable to other forms of media distribution. It thus surprised [us] to learn that NTIA and Neustar had a policy of using the Pacifica list of seven words to police domain name registrations. NTIA and Neustar saw fit to cancel [Mr. Rubin’s] registration in accordance with that policy upon noting that it incorporated the ‘f-word.'”