In response to rising anti-government protests in Libya, leaders have started to cut off citizens’ access to Facebook and other Internet sites.The folks over at centre Networks pose an interesting question: what happens to all those companies that have no business in Libya but use the .ly suffix in their domain names?
Link-shortening service Bit.ly is probably the most prominent one, but there are others like Deck.ly, which shortens links so they can be posted on Tweetdeck, and Embed.ly, which turns links into more interesting embeddable content by putting images and other material around them.
There’s some precedent for the fear: last October, the Libyan government seized the domain vb.ly for posting “adult” content. Domain owners ViIolet Blue and Ben Metcalfe disagreed, but the government held firm, and Metcalfe posted a long blog post explaining that the .ly domain should not be considered safe.
In that case, the Libyan government’s domain name registrar, NIC.ly, seized the site and turned it over for “local use.” That site is currently down. But the popular .ly Web sites are all still up and running.
Still, it seems that the outage is a possibility: when Egypt cut off Internet access earlier this year, the Egyptian government ordered ISPs to stop resolving all domains ending in .eg.
The lesson: be wary of using domain names outside where your business is based.