Can Libya’s government bring down URL shortener bit.ly?

Libya pulls plug on internet via @labovit/@arbornetworks

Following successful mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt thousands of protesters have been taking part in demonstrations in Libya, which included a “Day of Anger” on Friday. However, concerns have been raised that if Gaddafi’s government were to shut down internet access, as happened in Egypt, bit..ly links, which are shared by millions of twitter users every day, will become unusable.

Concern comes from the use of the top level .ly domain (TLD) , this is the national domain for Libya, in the same way that .ie is the national domain for Ireland and .co.uk for the UK. As the national provider of the .ly suffix, sites using the domain are subject to Libyan law. Since October 2010, when Sharia Law was evoked by Libyan authorities to take down a site, vb.ly, which showed a sleeveless woman drinking, the use of the .ly domain has become a cause of concern for the URL shortening website and users.

Answering a question posted on the Q&A social network, Quora, John Borthwick, the CEO of bit.ly reassured Twitter and bit.ly users that should Libya take down or restrict internet access the bit.ly domain will not be affected.

“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. ” Borthwick said.

Arbor Networks, a web security provider confirmed that web access was briefly cut in Lybia over night.  They also report that internet traffic also suffered two major “disruptions” soon after.

Libya pulls plug on internet via @labovit/@arbornetworks
Libyan internet access via @labovit/@arbornetworks

ZDNet reports that access to Facebook was blocked in Libya on Friday as the country also saw  periods of intermittent internet and electricity outages.

Borthwick went on to say that should bit.ly links, such as http://bit.ly/9lFO8d, become disrupted users can change the text “bit.ly” for “j.mp” http://j.mp/9lFO8d to connect to the same site.

The “Day of Anger” in Lybia has reportedly lead to the death of at least 24 people by security forces on Friday, although some reports put the figure as high as 80.


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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).