Q: Is VB.LY Shutdown a Storm in a Teacup? A: Probably

Registrants with .LY domain names, the ccTLD for Libya, must have paused last week when the Libyan government ordered the cancellation of VB.LY, a link shortening service run by run by Ben Metcalfe and Violet Blue that redirects to adult content, as it was declared that the content of the site was “against Sharia law”.”Pornography and adult material aren’t allowed under Libyan law, therefore we removed the domain,” a letter from the government-owned Libya Telecom & Technology agency said, adding: “The issue of offensive imagery is quite subjective, as what I may deem as offensive you might not, but I think you’ll agree that a picture of a scantily clad lady with some bottle in her hand isn’t exactly what most would consider decent or family friendly at the least,” according to a report in The Guardian.The report goes on to say “other moves made by the ministry could threaten the business of another web startup, bit.ly, which has had millions of dollars of investors’ money poured into it – including funding of $10m (£6.3m) received earlier this week – following the announcement in June by the Tripoli regulator for domain registry that domain registrations with fewer than four characters were restricted for use by registrars ‘having presence’ in Libya – that is, based in the country – where they would be under local Sharia jurisdictions.”Existing registrants though with domain names of less than four letters are able to keep their domain names.John Levine, a noted commentator on issues relating to the internet who also has a .LY domain, says he is only slightly concerned he will lose his.”Honestly, it was pretty foolish to put a sex site on a domain in a Muslim country. VB is Violet Blue, a very elegant high class sex site, but there’s no way it’s anything else,” writes Levine. “She argued that VB.LY was only a redirector to underlying sites and had no sexual stuff on it, which may have been technically correct, but it was utterly obvious to anyone what showed up on your screen if you typed http://vb.ly in the address bar. I think Violet Blue is swell, but it is naive to imagine that the Libyan government would not feel differently once they noticed it.”Levine also writes “Here’s a thought experiment: let’s say someone lives in Denmark, where pictures of 17 year olds are considered legal erotica, and builds his web site. He registers a domain for it in .US or .GU or .AS or .PR or .VI or .MP, where US law considers those pictures child pornography. How long would the domain last? Would it matter that he didn’t know, or that he couldn’t read the English fine print? Same issue.”To read the full post by John Levine on his blog, see: