Hopefully, upon hearing about the increasingly alarming violence and instability in Libya, which has reportedly seen Gaddafi ordering warplanes to bomb civilians, soldiers firing illegally enormous bullets at crowds of unarmed protesters, and even rumors of rape being used to systematically deter opponents of the regime, the first thing that you thought was not, “gee, I hope that my whimsically named URLs are OK.”
Nevertheless, regime change in Libya could pose a threat to sites whose URLs end in .ly, which is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Libya. With respect to bit.ly, Techland reports that if the current Libyan regime merely shuts down the Internet, the popular URL shortener would be OK, since it also has servers in Oregon and Europe which can continue to resolve the URLs. However, regime change or a clamping down by the Gaddafi regime could potentially restrict content shared on .ly domains, since the countries that control ccTLDs have the final authority to determine which sites are allowed to use them.
Libyan registry policy prohibits .ly domains to be obscene, indecent, or sexual in nature, nor can they be “insulting of religion or politics, or be related to gambling and lottery industry or be contrary to Libyan law or Islamic morality.” A new government could place even more stringent restrictions on the .ly domain — and in so doing create headaches not only for the bit.ly and Twitter (which uses bit.ly as its default link-shortening service), but also for sites such as Trunk.ly, Letter.ly, Embed.ly, Graphic.ly and many others that make use of the Libya top-level domain.
Last fall, the Libyan government exercised this power by seizing “sex-positive URL shortener” vb.ly.
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