When the Libyan government pulled the plug on the country’s Internet access on Friday, many outside the country were concerned about the implications the shutdown would have on the country’s top level domain (TLD). After all, the .ly domain is a popular alternative to the .com, used by a number of companies, but arguably most commonly associated with its usage as a URL shortener.
Don’t Worry about .ly
There’ll be no interruption, according to Borthwick. “For .ly domains to be unresolvable the five .ly root servers that are authoritative *all* have to be offline, or responding with empty responses,” he writes. “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’s response should serve to reassure users of Bit.ly, at the very least. He says that the company will keep the service running, including “offering options around which top level domains you use.” Try .mp, for example (that’s the TLD for the Northern Mariana Islands).
Or, Maybe We Should Worry
However, Kim Davies cautions against a “sense of false confidence” and says we shouldn’t think “that country-code domains are impervious to these kinds of government-mandated Internet shutdowns.” He agrees that the effect of an Internet shutdown may not be immediate, but the effects can still be “devastating.”
Davies points out that the servers outside of Libya are still reliant – eventually -on obtaining updates from the .ly registry within 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.” Davies pegs that at 28 days.
Unlike Egypt, which was offline for a week, Libya has had intermittent Internet access. The Next Web posits that the shutdowns in Libya echo some sort of nightly curfew – off at 11pm and on again at dawn. This makes it likely that other DNS servers will update their records and the .ly domains will continue working.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that this isn’t the first problem that those outside of Libya have had with the TLD. Last fall, the Libyan government shut down Vb.ly, the URL shortener run by sex writer violet blue. The domain was yanked because of its content – as it “fell outside of Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law.”
All this should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone obtaining a domain – in Libya or, frankly, elsewhere, as TLDs fall under government scrutiny and seizure, no matter the country.