Libya taking down .ly websites not in line with Islamic law

URL shorteners are known for their clever use of domains to look like an actual word. Google has Goo.gl. Techmeme has Techme.me, and Neowin has neow.in. The list is practically endless. One of the top level domains (TLD) commonly used for shortening purposes is .ly, and it’s owned by the Libyan government. The biggest URL shortening service to use that TLD is Bit.ly. Other websites include Ow.ly, Ad.ly, and Smel.ly. The Libyan government is not too fond of these services popping up in their namespace, and is actively trying to take down sites misusing the .ly TLD.

What is considered misuse? According to Ben Metcalfe, owner of vb.ly, the Libyan government took down his site because its content was in violation of Libyan Islamic/Sharia law. Regardless of the obvious logic shortfall of claiming that content on a URL shortener could be offensive, this action shows clear intent to censor the Libyan Internet, and that’s a trend we don’t want to see spread. It also didn’t clearly violate any regulation on the NIC.ly registrar page, and that’s what causes Metcalfe to assume that NIC.ly is being pressured into closing these sites for political (and possibly financial) agendas. Metcalfe did some investigation into the matter and came up with the following conclusions:

  • .ly domains deemed to be in violation of NIC.ly regulation are being deregistered and removed without warning – causing significant inconvenience and damage.
  • .ly domains are being deregistered and removed due to reasons that do not correspond to the regulations defined in the official NIC.ly Regulations.
  • NIC.ly seems to want to extend their reach beyond the domain itself and regulate the content of websites that use a .ly domain. The concept amounts to censorship and makes .ly domains untenable to be used for user-generated content or url shorteners.
  • Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law is being used to consider the validity of domains, which is unclear and obscure in terms of being able to know what is allowed and what isn’t.
  • NIC.ly have suddenly decided that <4 letter .ly domains should only be available to local Libyans and this appears to create motivation to recover what premium domains they can to go back into this new local-only pot of domains.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen censorship on the Internet, as China has been actively and successfully censoring their web space for years. Metcalfe warns people that based on the conclusions he’s drawn up, no URL shortener using the .ly TLD can be considered safe. 

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39 Comments

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I agree that the censorship action is heinous. But I cannot stop thinking of how stupid it is to use "URL shortening" in that manner. Youtube.com is easier to memorize and type than Youtu.be. Same goes for bit.ly compared to bitly.com.

Easier to memorize because it is more uniform with the common sites format. And easier to type if you use the "ctrl+Enter" shortcut key!!

onebadolepuddycat said,
feels sorry for the people whom actually live in places like that. That is sad!

Wellll.... the US *may* be headed in the same directions, towards censorship I mean. Proposed legislation reported to quietly be advancing under the radar, would allow the feds to shut down domain names with little or no notice & no appeals if the site has any *discussion &/or tools* for by-passing (c) or DRM etc. And then there's the possible future requirement that backdoors be built into messaging services for fed access -- the same thing RIM's going through in India & the Mid-East.

I guess that's what they get for trying to do business with a country that has laws based on religion lol

Rudy said,
I guess that's what they get for trying to do business with a country that has laws based on religion lol
All the more reason to make religion illegal.

necrosis said,
All the more reason to make religion illegal.

That would cause problems. It would be better if the law did not recognize religion at all. No tax breaks for running religious buildings etc.

omnicoder said,

That would cause problems. It would be better if the law did not recognize religion at all. No tax breaks for running religious buildings etc.
+1

omnicoder said,

That would cause problems. It would be better if the law did not recognize religion at all. No tax breaks for running religious buildings etc.
+2

omnicoder said,

That would cause problems. It would be better if the law did not recognize religion at all. No tax breaks for running religious buildings etc.

Exactly.

I hope India won't get all grumpy on Neow.in.

I find it funny that Greenland has .gl for e.g. goo.gl, when that isn't a country or international community like with .int or .eu.

Northgrove said,
I find it funny that Greenland has .gl for e.g. goo.gl, when that isn't a country or international community like with .int or .eu.
Greenland (Kalaallisut: Kalaallit Nunaat meaning "Land of the Kalaallit people"; Danish: Grønland)[4] is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark

Ryoken said,
Greenland (Kalaallisut: Kalaallit Nunaat meaning "Land of the Kalaallit people"; Danish: Grønland)[4] is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark

americans havent heard of kingdoms like Denmark, England, Holland etc. where one nation is multiple countries

Richio said,

+1

Why is it that Neowin gives all this press to other countries censoring the internet but never seems to talk about the US's own censorship issues?

vaximily said,

Why is it that Neowin gives all this press to other countries censoring the internet but never seems to talk about the US's own censorship issues?

which issues would that be? please list them... I'm sure if someone would know what they are they could write about them....

neufuse said,

which issues would that be? please list them... I'm sure if someone would know what they are they could write about them....

I can name one. That's the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" (COICA). It sounds like it might be a good name by the title but that's where it ends. It gives the US Government the power to shutdown a site that it determines is being used by the majority for copyright infringement purposes. This would be regardless of server location. That's just one major first step toward internet censorship. The good thing is that the act was tabled when the Senate adjourned which means they have to start all over on deliberating it next time around.

vaximily said,

Why is it that Neowin gives all this press to other countries censoring the internet but never seems to talk about the US's own censorship issues?


Neowin report what is currently in the tech news.

vaximily said,

Why is it that Neowin gives all this press to other countries censoring the internet but never seems to talk about the US's own censorship issues?

Because it's in the news!
Edit: Calum beat me to it.

shinji257 said,

I can name one. That's the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" (COICA). It sounds like it might be a good name by the title but that's where it ends. It gives the US Government the power to shutdown a site that it determines is being used by the majority for copyright infringement purposes. This would be regardless of server location. That's just one major first step toward internet censorship. The good thing is that the act was tabled when the Senate adjourned which means they have to start all over on deliberating it next time around.


only site paying attention to it that i visit regulary was demonoid. the rest seems to ignore the fact that the US government soon can just dissallow servers and/or clients access to the internet without proper reasoning. they dont even need a reason..... thats worse then china's censorship.