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This past February we investigated what would happen to “.ly” domains in the event that Libyan officials decided to shut down Internet access within the country. We especially wondered about URL shortener bit.ly to which CEO John Borthwick provided a comprehensive technical reply on Quora. He noted that if Libya had blocked Internet traffic, it wouldn’t affect bit.ly and he continued, “for .ly domains to be unresolvable the five .ly root servers that are authoritative *all* have to be offline, or responding with empty responses. Of the five root nameservers for the .ly TLD: two are based in Oregon, one is in the Netherlands and two are in Libya.”
With a potential new rebel government moving into Libya, could we see issues with accessing .ly domains in a post-Quaddafi Libya?
Bob Gezelter provided an interesting response, “…The more serious problem is: Who is in charge of a TLD in such a situation? When does the present “authority” loose its authority and how does one transfer its authority? Additionally, what if the “acceptable” registrations policy changes as a result?”
I’ve reviewed much of the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) website and so far I have been unable to find any specific information for how a government change in a country could or would affect the top-level domain for that country.
I’ve reached out to several subject matter experts and will update this post if I receive any new information. You can also leave a comment or contact me if you have any ideas as to how a government change in Libya might affect their top-level domain.
As we all know by now, there is unrest in the Middle East. You can read about the latest news from worldwide journalists located in all of the countries. The stories are amazing to read and watch. From an Internet perspective, the AFP is reporting that access to Facebook was cut earlier today in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. The AFP notes, “From early evening it was impossible to access the popular Facebook site, and connections to other sites were either very slow or not possible, they said. The state of Internet connections in the rest of the country was not known.”
I had a good discussion with my friend Darren about this issue with regards to Internet access for the people of Libya and Darren raised a very valid question. He wondered what happens to the domain names that use the “.ly” suffix.
Back in October, the domain vb.ly was seized by the Libyan government. Alaeddin S. ElSharif, a spokesperson for Libya telecom and the country’s Web service Department said, “Pornography and adult material aren’t allowed under Libyan Law, therefore, we removed the domain.” Ben Metcalfe was one of the people who originally registered the vb.ly domain name and posted about the removal noting, “This is deeply concerning for everyone, but especially .ly domain owners, because it sets a precedent that all websites running on a .ly domain must comply with Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law in order to maintain their domains. This is especially concerning for anyone running a url shortener or hosting user-generated content on a .ly domain.”
A year ago, the Libyan Spider Network posted a notice that only companies registered to do business in Libya could register a two- or three-letter domain name. Companies that were already registered, including bit.ly, could keep their registrations. Ben ended his post by suggesting that the .ly domain name space is, “unsafe.”
Update: 10pm Eastern – Andrew Allemann at Domain Name Wire has posted some thoughts on this issue. The overall view I am getting is that the domain names would be cached and would live at least for a bit of time if Libya was to disconnect the pipe.
Update: 8:45pm Eastern: Rich Pearson, marketing VP for blogging software Posterous, noted on Twitter, “we will soon be changing to new short URL so you shouldn’t have to worry” — they currently use post.ly as their URL shortener.
But what happens if the country of Libya just turns off the Internet all together? Last week Twitter client Tweetdeck launched deck.ly, a service that allows you to write long messages which are partially posted on Twitter. What about popular URL shortener bit.ly? Or embeddable content service embed.ly? The list goes on and on…
And if Libya decides to turn off access to Twitter as they have apparently done with Facebook, could they turn off .ly services like bit.ly and deck.ly that are heavily integrated into Twitter?
While I know it’s cool and hip and trendy to have a .somethingotherthancom name, I’ve never been a fan of anything that’s not .com, .net or .org.
So what would hypothetically happen if Libya (or any other country) was to cut access to the Internet. Would domain names registered using that country’s suffix also be instantly cut? I am working to get some answers from domain experts now and will update this post as I get more information.