NIC.ly down as Libya's response to vb.ly takedown spreads

Earlier this week, the Libyan government took down the popular URL shortener vb.ly, claiming that it went against the terms of service of the .ly top level domain registrar. Concerns over the breaching of Islamic Sharia law were the reasons cited by NIC.ly, the registration website, and it understandably caused a whole lot of controversy regarding the state of Internet censorship and the filtering responsibilities of URL shortening services. Vb.ly isn’t by any means the only service to use the .ly TLD. Bit.ly, one of the bigger URL shorteners out there, was considered a prime target for the Libyan government.

Today, NIC.ly released a statement explaining their actions, and why vb.ly is the only website they were going to take down and revoke registration. The statement cited the self-described purpose of vb.ly as a "sex friendly URL shortener" as one of the main reasons for action. The "local Internet community" decided that this showed that the main purpose of the service was to provide portals to adult content. They also claim that vb.ly has ignored multiple attempts at communication from NIC.ly, as well as changed their contact information to evade the concerns.

When our repeated warnings were ignored, and after over 3 weeks of failed attempts to contact the owners of vb.ly, NIC.ly had no alternative but to apply its regulations that clearly state that it reserves the right to suspend or remove a .ly domain name in violation of rules and regulations. The domain has also been excluded from future registrations so that no other entity (local or abroad) can re-register it.

They also defended their right to limit international registrations under the TLD to Urls with more than 4 letters only, claiming that due to the increasing popularity of the .ly TLD, the under-four letter names needed to be reserved for local use. This is a common practice among national domain registrars.

The response was posted by Techmeme, and NIC.ly is down right now, most likely due to the traffic surge that must have caused. The full text of the response is below:

NIC.ly rules and regulations were set by the local Libyan internet community (in accordance with best practices for ccTLDs) to reflect it’s identity and content. It’s a bottom up module in which the Community’s feedback, opinions and remarks are taken into decision-making consideration, and it is our duty to uphold these rules and regulations to serve the better interests of the community we represent.

In reference to the vb.ly incident: the domain’s purpose (proclaimed by its registrants themselves) was to serve as a ‘sex friendly URL shortener’, mainly for adult uses. This means that vb.ly had a policy different than the other URL shorteners, not using filters and encouraging the use of this service for creating links to adult sites and other “NSFW” links, thus placing vb.ly by definition in the porn/adult site category. 

This use was deemed as unacceptable by our local internet community, regardless of whether or not the site hosts adult material or redirects traffic to 3rd party sites

Contrary to vb.ly’s claims, they were contacted on numerous occasions to investigate these concerns, and over the course of these contacts vb.ly has ignored our efforts and even changed their contact numbers.

When our repeated warnings were ignored, and after over 3 weeks of failed attempts to contact the owners of vb.ly, NIC.ly had no alternative but to apply its regulations that clearly state that it reserves the right to suspend or remove a .ly domain name in violation of rules and regulations. The domain has also been excluded from future registrations so that no other entity (local or abroad) can re-register it.

As to the decision to keep the registration of domain names shorter than 4 symbols long under .ly only for entities with a local Libyan presence, this comes in accordance with NIC.ly’s concern that the rise in popularity of URL shorteners from abroad taking up all these names has deprived locals of their right to register the important 3 letter abbreviations of their various businesses and interests. We as a Registry would prefer seeing art.ly used for a website about Libyan art for instance, or lda.ly used by the Libyan De-mining Association, rather than adding more URL shorteners under our National TLD. 

For over 5 years, we as a Libyan Registry recognized by ICANN have been open for domain name registrations from all around the Globe, and we pride ourselves on being the online destination of thousands of domain names from all over the World. Over this span of time never once have we abused the trust invested in us by the Global internet community, nor have we ever taken advantage of having an attractive extension like ‘.ly’. Only when our Community's rules and regulations were compromised was when we had to act.

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