Who would have thunk that .ly was actually the top-level domain code for the Libyan government, just like .ca for Canada and .us for the United States? Probably not the creators of bit.ly, owl.ly, smel.ly and other .ly URL shorteners that are out there.
Now it’s causing problems: One URL shortening website is reporting that they’ve been shut down by the Libyan government because they didn’t like the content they were promoting.
VB.ly, co-created by Ben Metcalfe and sex educator Violet Blue, was a URL shortening site that gave you an NSFW warning before going into any inappropriate sites instead of just blocking them as some of the other URL shortening sites tend to do. However, the Libyan government shut down their website, saying “It is when you promote your site being solely for adult uses, or even state that you are ‘adult friendly’ to promote it that we as a Libyan Registry have an issue.” The government spokesperson added:
When we have an out cry from within our Community and even from places as remote as Morocco (a sister Muslim and Arab state) asking us how such a ‘scandalous’ domain is allowed to exist under our National extension we are left with no option but to apply the rules.
The creators claim that it was just “sex positive,” but they never had any intention of promoting the URL shortener to be used solely for adult content.
While people can come on both sides of the debate on whether or not the Libyan government had the right to shut VB.ly down, the more pressing question is what this means for the future of .ly sites. Since the Libyan government has the right to block and approve any website and their censorship rules are much stricter than some other countries due to their adherence to Muslim law, this may mean that we might have to look for another solution than .ly domains.