The website for the Libyan registry, nic.ly, was defaced by hackers as rebels entered the capital city of Tripoli. The hackers left a message on the website saying “Hacked by Electr0n & ali monder” along with “bye bye Qadaffi”.Below that it said “Feb 17 Libya,” the date protestors designated a “day of rage” against Gaddafi and his regime with greetings to a number of hackers and also to “all Muslim hackers”.There are even conveniently a couple of email addresses to contact the hackers!
The operators of Letter.ly have found their domain name was taken down by the Libyan authorities after it expired and they were unable to renew it, reports TechCrunch.The move follows the Libyan government ordering the cancellation of VB.LY in October last year. VB.LY is 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 at the time.The report went 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.”Yesterday letter.ly sent a letter to users of its service, email newsletter authors, that TechCrunch reports said:
hello letterly authors, last week, the agency that we used to register the letter.ly domain was taken down as a side effect of the war in libya (.ly is the libyan top level domain). our domain registration expired, and we were unable to renew it. as the expiration propagated, the site appeared to be dead and emails sent to your subscribers probably bounced. 1) sorry for the hassle. it’s amazing that a physical war has affected our service in this way. 2) we are now letterly.net. this means that you will send emails to email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org, and new subscribers should be directed to letterly.net/yoururl.The inability to renew the letter.ly domain name, and taking down of the VB.LY domain, show the difficulty in relying on a ccTLD in a country where their values might not concur with the use of the domain or in a trouble spot.
The growing popularity of .LY domain names, the Libyan ccTLD, as an internet address shortener has led some to worry about whether the domain names will continue to operate.Popular sites such as bit.ly has raised questions about what happens when governments shut down parts of their internet, especially to foreign access, in time of unrest or repression.The answer was discussed by John Borthwick, CEO of bit.ly, who said on the Quora forum that “Should Libya block Internet traffic, as Egypt did, it will not affect http://bit.ly or any .ly domain.””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.”However responding to Borthwick’s comment, Kim Davies from the IANA wrote “It gives a sense of false confidence to state that country-code domains are impervious to these kinds of government-mandated Internet shutdowns. If a country like Libya decides to shut down the Internet affecting the registry operations of .LY, while it is unlikely to have an immediate effect unless they explicitly empty the registry data, it can have a devastating effect in short order.””John Borthwick in his original answer stated that because the authoritative servers (they are not root servers) for .LY are located outside the country it is safe, but the authoritative servers outside the country are reliant on being capable of obtaining updates from the .LY registry inside the country. If they are unable to succeed in getting updates, at some point they will consider the data they have stale and stop providing information on the .LY domain.”Writing on the Washington Post Faster Forward blog, Rob Pegaro notes that “Yes, bit.ly is safe, because it has plenty of backups, but an Internet shutdown is not the only consideration for sites looking to foreign TLDs.”
The Twitterverse is awash with catchy URL shortening services, which allow what would otherwise be long URLs to fit within the strict character limit of individual Tweets. Before the Twitter phenomenon really took hold, tinyurl.com was one of the more popular services; now much shorter options are available, using various ccTLDs which have the significant advantage of being only two characters after the dot.
Some of the more high-profile recent examples include Twitterâs t.co, Googleâs goo.gl, Facebookâs fb.me and US National Public Radioâs n.pr. For the ccTLDs concerned, these domain names represent invaluable exposure to a global audience and are probably one of the single most effective marketing initiatives they will undertake.
Similarly, the popularity of domain hacks, one form of which involves ignoring the dot to spell out a brand or word â examples include del.icio.us and blo.gs â offer another opportunity for showcasing a ccTLD to a potentially global audience.
The promotional opportunity is particularly attractive for smaller ccTLDs. Greenlandâs .gl and South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islandsâ .gs are not ccTLDs that receive much, if any, attention from outsiders, except perhaps from the most diligent Trademark attorneys at some of the worldâs largest corporations.
Chasing the promotional benefits of URL-shortening services and domain hacks is not without its risks however, as Libya has recently discovered. The bit.ly URL service is one of the most popular in use within the Twitterverse, and has given Libyaâs .ly ccTLD a significant global profile. Other URL shortening services have followed bit.lyâs lead, including vb.ly, which was pitched with the following tag line:
The Internetâs first and only sex-positive link shortener service, meaning links are not filtered or groomed, and weâll never pull your links because we decided to become âfamily friendlyâ .
It was rather naive to expect that a socially conservative country such as Libya would not have an issue with a website that portrays itself in these terms, and it was therefore unsurprising that NIC.LY last month revoked the vb.ly domain name, citing concerns that the service was not in keeping with Sharia Law. They have also revised the registration policy for .ly to restrict registrations of less than four characters to locally-registered entities, thereby effectively preventing any new URL shortening services from using the .ly ccTLD.
It is of course NIC.LYâs right to manage their ccTLD in a way that suits the specific legal and cultural realities of contemporary Libyan society, as it is for all other ccTLD Managers. Those that wish to take advantage of the combination of short domain names at relatively low cost for use with URL shorteners should therefore consider carefully which ccTLD they choose to utilise for this purpose.
There are of course many countries that have chosen to leverage their luck in the ccTLD lottery by re-purposing their ccTLD as quasi-gTLDs and offering them on an unrestricted basis to the global market. These include Tuvaluâs .tv, American Samoaâs .as (AS is an abbreviation of a common company type in some European countries), Niueâs .nu (Nu means ânowâ in Dutch, Danish and Swedish), and more recently, Montenegroâs .me and Colombiaâs .co.
The attractions of such a move are obvious for countries with a memorable ccTLD, a very small population and few other sources of income, as the re-purposing of their ccTLD represents an opportunity to earn valuable export income.
The number of ccTLDs that are in a position to follow suit is however very limited, particularly with the spectre of hundreds of new gTLDs on the horizon.
Somalia is about to launch their .so ccTLD to the global market, and while I expect that it will be moderately successful, it is unlikely to achieve the hundreds of thousands of registrations seen in some other re-purposed ccTLDs, at least for the foreseeable future. The publicity generated by the Libyan registryâs recent crackdown is also likely to give many potential registrants pause for thought about the longer-term prospects for a ccTLD governed by a country that suffers from endemic political instability.
Even one of the most successful re-purposed ccTLDs, Tuvaluâs .tv â operated by Verisign since 2000 under a long-term arrangement with the Tuvalu Government â is failing to live up to some expectations within Tuvalu, despite accounting for close to 10% of the Governmentâs total revenue (see the Australia Networkâs article: Threat to Tuvaluâs proud domain).
Governments and national regulators that are considering the future of their ccTLDs should therefore be careful to avoid being dazzled by the windfall revenue gains that going after the global market may appear to offer. It is highly unlikely that we will again see a ccTLD achieve the success of the recent launch of second-level registrations under .co, which has reached over half a million names in a few short months. For the vast majority of ccTLDs, focusing on the needs of their local market will instead be the most appropriate course of action, particularly over the longer term.
The benefits to be gained from the development of local ccTLD infrastructure, and the skills and expertise required to operate it, will be significant in capacity-building terms and should form the basis for nurturing a sustainable local internet industry. A dynamic local internet industry will help to bridge the digital divide and promote the myriad of social and economic opportunities that the internet has to offer.
Similarly, implementing policies developed in conjunction with local stakeholders and appropriate to the local legal, cultural and economic situation, along with effective awareness campaigns and marketing activities should help to ensure that the local ccTLD becomes the TLD of choice for local businesses and organisations.
ICANNâs new gTLD program however has the potential to overwhelm many ccTLDs that are yet to establish themselves as the TLD of choice in their local market, with hundreds of new TLDs expected to be introduced, likely from around early 2012.
The already highly competitive global market is therefore about to become even more so. Those considering the future of their ccTLD should be mindful of this in their planning activities and should ensure they focus on sustainable, local outcomes.
This article by Jon Lawrence, Business Development Consultant, AusRegistry International, was republished with permission and sourced from www.ausregistry.com/blog/?p=575.
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: