Virtual Zoning

38 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2008

See all articles by Steve Black

Steve Black

Texas Tech University School of Law

Date Written: September 10, 2005


The Internet is a wonderful tool for research, communication, and fun. People from all over the world are able to connect and exchange ideas faster than ever before in the history of mankind.

However, the speed and ease of using Internet communication and commerce has attracted seedy elements which threaten the well-being and safety of children. While Congress has attempted to intervene, the First Amendment poses a significant hurdle. How can we make the internet safe without restricting free speech?

The answer comes by applying real property zoning principles to First Amendment protections. Beginning in the 1920s, the police power of legislatures acting for the public good and safety, was upheld as not violating the Fifth Amendment's right to property. The Supreme Court agreed that a legislature may regulate, and even diminish private individual's property values so that the community might be well-structured, beautiful, and safe.

It is possible to zone the Internet in much the same way.

Zoning the internet would have the same result - a safe, well-structured, and usable online community for all, without restricting free speech. The solution takes three steps:

(1) Mandate the creation of a .xxx Top Level Domain, (2) Require all software that accesses the internet (e.g. browsers, chat clients, ftp programs) to lock out the .xxx domain unless an adult key is provided, and (3) Prohibit indecent speech except on the .xxx domain.

Keywords: free speech, internet, zoning, virtual zoning, e-zoning, first amendment, indecent, adult

JEL Classification: H11, I00, K32, K42

Suggested Citation

Black, Steve, Virtual Zoning (September 10, 2005). Available at SSRN: or

Steve Black (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University School of Law ( email )

1802 Hartford
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

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