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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This is ridiculous. It's just a domain! Are they going to takedown .tv domains because they're not in Tuvalu next?

BBgamer said,
This is ridiculous. It's just a domain! Are they going to takedown .tv domains because they're not in Tuvalu next?

They didn't take it down because it wasn't in Libya...

They will take down .tv domains because Tuvalu won't exist in a few years, having been swallowed by the ocean.

BBgamer said,
This is ridiculous. It's just a domain! Are they going to takedown .tv domains because they're not in Tuvalu next?
Stupid post. Did you even read the article?

I hate to be the devil's advocate here but is it really fair for western companies to buy up Libyan domains simply because they're short? It's about time that ICANN stepped in and offered a universal solution, rather than everyone buying up domains in countries like Libya (.ly) and Tuvula (.tv).

theyarecomingforyou said,
I hate to be the devil's advocate here but is it really fair for western companies to buy up Libyan domains simply because they're short? It's about time that ICANN stepped in and offered a universal solution, rather than everyone buying up domains in countries like Libya (.ly) and Tuvula (.tv).

More to me it shows how lazy we as a species have gotten LOL.

theyarecomingforyou said,
I hate to be the devil's advocate here but is it really fair for western companies to buy up Libyan domains simply because they're short? It's about time that ICANN stepped in and offered a universal solution, rather than everyone buying up domains in countries like Libya (.ly) and Tuvula (.tv).
At least as fair as having anything run by the scariest form of law known to mankind.

What is ICANN expected to do? Offer new TLDs (Top-Level Domains)? The more TLDs that they offer, the greater level of confusion as well as chances for fraud exist. For example, let's say they added ".l" as a TLD, and suddenly someone bought paypa.l/com, or perhaps yourban.k/com (whatever letter it ended in). Though I'd love to own " http://ur.l " or even " http://ur.i ".

theyarecomingforyou said,
I hate to be the devil's advocate here but is it really fair for western companies to buy up Libyan domains simply because they're short? It's about time that ICANN stepped in and offered a universal solution, rather than everyone buying up domains in countries like Libya (.ly) and Tuvula (.tv).

Come on, is ONE extra character going to kill you? Apparently so...

theyarecomingforyou said,
I hate to be the devil's advocate here but is it really fair for western companies to buy up Libyan domains simply because they're short? It's about time that ICANN stepped in and offered a universal solution, rather than everyone buying up domains in countries like Libya (.ly) and Tuvula (.tv).

How come Libya and Tuvula have a two letter domain, and yet the UK has to have .co.uk and not just .uk ?

TCLN Ryster said,

How come Libya and Tuvula have a two letter domain, and yet the UK has to have .co.uk and not just .uk ?

long story short they are follow different rules as usual ....vs most of the world

I'm sure a web domain such as 'freechildporn.com' would be shutdown in the US... not sure how that is any different. If it violates the local laws, then it violates the local laws. Not sure why everyone is getting their panties in a twist over this...

Shadrack said,
I'm sure a web domain such as 'freechildporn.com' would be shutdown in the US... not sure how that is any different. If it violates the local laws, then it violates the local laws. Not sure why everyone is getting their panties in a twist over this...

Because most are only open minded enough to agree with moral issues that they understand and believe in. I doubt I am the only one to log into yahoo messenger and get spammed by .ly shortened URL's that send you to cam sites. If the country has some form of law against viewing sites like these, that's their business. .ly domain names are that countries property. That was the idea of making those domains.

.ly belongs to Libya, so they can do what they want with it. What exactly is the news here*, a domain that Libya doesn't like has been taken down. Big deal, find a new tld and move on.

*(ofc I'm well aware the only reason this is news is that Libya is a nasty horrible dicatorship, hence this is an evil move etc )

I think they are only restricting future registrations at this point. It was very clear that vb.ly was removed due to violating specific rules. Specifically being that it was focused on adult related content. If you want to use their services you should follow and understand their rules.

LiquidSolstice said,
Calm down, they can't take down bit.ly because bit.ly doesn't host anything that is against the rules, it only links to other places.

vb.ly did the same that bit.ly does now. Shortened urls.

Pupik said,

vb.ly did the same that bit.ly does now. Shortened urls.

"The statement cited the self-described purpose of vb.ly as a "sex friendly URL shortener" as one of the main reasons for action."

Quote from the article, this is why bit.ly is not targeted and vb.ly is targeted. vb.ly apparently is a url shortener focused primarily on sexually-oriented websites and has apparently intentionally evaded contact from NIC.ly so they revoked registration of the domain.

LOL at the panic this has put everyone into. It's almost like we've forgotten how to use an internet before shortened URLs.

Frankly I've hated the damned things ever since I started seeing them showing up in PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISM. It was one thing when it was twitter, but anytime you do NOT have a character limit, URL shorteners are idiotic and FAR less intuitive than simply making a hyperlink out of regular words (like we've been doing for decades).

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