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Libya Takes Hard Line On Link Shortening Domains 354

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the still-don't-like-shorteners dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that Libyan government has removed an adult-friendly link-shortening service from the web, saying that it fell afoul of local laws in a crackdown that could come as a blow to other url shortening services such as bit.ly, which is particularly popular on Twitter where all messages have to be limited to 140 characters. 'Other ly domains are being deregistered and removed without warning,' says Co-founder of vb.ly Ben Metcalfe. 'We eventually discovered that the domain has been seized because the content of our website, in their opinion, fell outside of Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law.' Alaeddin ElSharif from NIC.ly, the body that controls Libyan web addresses, told vb.ly co-founder Violet Blue that a picture of her on the website had sparked the removal. 'I think you'll agree that a picture of a scantily clad lady with some bottle in her hand isn't what most would consider decent or family friendly,' says ElSharif. 'While letters "vb" are quite generic and bear no offensive meaning in themselves, they're being used as a domain name for an openly admitted "adult-friendly url shortener." It is when you promote your site being solely for adult uses ... that we as a Libyan registry have an issue.'"
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Libya Takes Hard Line On Link Shortening Domains

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  • Won't anybody stop this insanity and think of the adults who crave link-shortened pictures of "a scantily clad lady with some bottle in her hand"?
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 07, 2010 @07:48AM (#33823232) Journal

      Won't anybody stop this insanity and think of the adults who crave link-shortened pictures of "a scantily clad lady with some bottle in her hand"?

      I wouldn't even call her 'scantily clad' but you can judge for yourself here [talkingpointsmemo.com].

      • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @07:52AM (#33823268) Journal

        as far as I can tell SFW in even some of the more restrictive environs in the US.

        Although, while not scantily clad, I think she is someone I'd still prefer to see in a Burqa.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by John Hasler (414242)

        > I wouldn't even call her 'scantily clad'

        Her head isn't covered and her arms are bare. The bottle is also quite offensive to conservative moslems as it implies alcohol.

        • by Moryath (553296) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @09:12AM (#33824124)

          And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why you don't want to let any religion get their hands on your government - whether it's a nutjob cult set up by an early 19th century lunatic, a 7th century pedophile, or even a rather kindly gentleman whose major accomplishment was sitting on his ass under a tree for a month and a half.

          Ultimately, we want to get religion out of government as much as possible. If something is universal - say, prohibitions on murder or theft - then we can certainly all agree to implement them in a secular manner. But I shouldn't be restricted from buying some beer on my one day off each week just because a bunch of fundamentalist shitheads think I should be wasting my morning praying to their sun god.

          • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @09:17AM (#33824224) Journal

            I read a report about a Millersville PA government school teacher being FIRED for having a similar photo online - drinking alcohol. They said it sends the wrong message to her students.

            >>>you don't want to let any religion get their hands on your government -

            And yet we already do (see my last sentence).

          • by anti-pop-frustration (814358) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @11:12AM (#33825780) Journal
            Totally agree with you about keeping religion out of government and public life in general.

            That being said, can we please not make this story about Islam?

            This has nothing do to with Islam or cultural relativism and everything to do with Lybia being a totalitarian regime. Gaddafi [wikimedia.org] is the local thug and dictator, but he is not an islamist by far. He's an arab nationalist, an ideology that is largely secular (very much like Saddam Hussein was), yet he has supported and backed terrorism several times in the past (Lockerbie Bombing [wikimedia.org]). Please try to have a wider perspective, most of the dictators in power in Muslim countries don't give a shit about Islam, they are only looking out for themselves. They might use religion to try to legitimize their regimes or as a populist tool to fight their democratic opponents.

            This is what happen we you do business with autocratic regimes that have no respect for the law or for basic human rights and liberties. The only real rule is the whim of the local leader/prince.

            Switzerland learned the hard way, when Lybia kept two Swiss nationals hostage during several months [wikimedia.org] as retaliation. This because the Swiss police arrested Gaddafi's son for beating his servants and treating them as slaves.

            Bottom line: If you do chose to do business in authoritarian non-democratic countries, be prepared to pay the cost and lose it all at any point in time.
      • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:00AM (#33823350)

        I wouldn't even call her 'scantily clad'

        While not being an expert, Islam in general expects at least modest dress for women that includes not having bare arms. So the definition of scantily clad is region dependent.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)

          ... the definition of scantily clad is religion dependent.

          FTFY.

          • by SteeldrivingJon (842919) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:43AM (#33823806) Homepage Journal

            Uh, no. The accepted conception of 'scantily clad' in the US has changed dramatically in the last 100 years in the US, without as dramatic a change in religion. (The delta between ankle-length bathing costumes for women and Lady GaGa's outfits is a lot wider than the difference in US religious beliefs from 1910 to 2010.)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The Quran say nothing about how women should dress, other then covering their chest.
            Few religions have any actual dress code. Islam is butchered by the savages that use their Gods name for war and oppression.

            The Quran speak mostly of peace and love, and acceptance of others.
            It even says that responsible christians and jews, will go to haven.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              It even says that responsible christians and jews, will go to haven.

              What about responsible neo-pagans?

        • by Barefoot Monkey (1657313) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:53AM (#33823904)

          I wouldn't even call her 'scantily clad'

          While not being an expert, Islam in general expects at least modest dress for women that includes not having bare arms. So the definition of scantily clad is region dependent.

          Thank God for the USA, where the right to bare arms is enshrined in the Consitution.

          • by OzPeter (195038)

            Thank God for the USA, where the right to bare arms is enshrined in the Consitution.

            I thought it had to do with hunting and Bear arms?

            • I thought it had to do with tracking-down and killing dictators like Nero, Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Saddam, and so on - in order to restore liberty.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                I thought it had to do with tracking-down and killing dictators like Nero, Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Saddam, and so on - in order to restore liberty.

                So of the dictators you listed, how many were tracked down and killed by their own armed populace?

            • by Skylinux (942824)

              Stop hurting the bears and be happy that you are allowed to display your arms bare.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rwv (1636355)

        Well, that's the point. Cultures that think pictures of women who are "clad" (which is just a fancy word for "wearing clothes") are very probably suppressing their women.

        I would stop short of saying that women in these cultures are abused or mistreated because I don't know the situation. But my impression is that making them adhere to a particular dress code is denying them a basic human right.

        On the other hand, forcing "Western" values on Libya doesn't seem all that fair either. So let them be free

        • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:42AM (#33823794)

          Well, that's the point. Cultures that think pictures of women who are "clad" (which is just a fancy word for "wearing clothes") are very probably suppressing their women.

          And people from Brasil look at what the US norm is and shake their head. I have a female friend from Brasil, who after a business trip to the US she told me how she brought her normal Brasilian bathing suit and felt weird wearing it around Americans. The next trip she borrowed her mothers bathing suit because it was more modest and fitted in by US standards. So by your definition and her experience the US is suppressing its women. And dare I mention Prairie dresses?

          • >>>she brought her normal Brasilian bathing suit and felt weird wearing it around Americans.

            Really?
            (packing bags)

            But seriously: Not all Americans are prudes. There are topless beaches and also nude beaches. Perhaps your friend should have gone to hang-out with those people instead of the Puritans. ;-)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Golddess (1361003)

            So by your definition and her experience the US is suppressing its women.

            I have no idea what a normal Brasilian bathing suit looks like, but men are allowed to go topless more places than women are. That can most definitely be called suppression.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Ah, good, thanks for the link, you'd think it would be something that would be incredibly obvious to include in the story, but apparently not. Either that or I'm giving too much credit to the BBC.

        I suppose I should be outraged by this, except:

        1. I hate URL shorteners.
        2. It's not like there isn't a free market for domains. Don't like the Libyan rules, create a domain somewhere else.

        • Ah, good, thanks for the link, you'd think it would be something that would be incredibly obvious to include in the story, but apparently not.

          I included it in my summary [slashdot.org] that I submitted a half hour before pickens but they selected his instead because mine was voted down to purple in firehose for some reason. Guess I wrote the wrong headline as I've got the same quotes he does plus the picture.

        • The funniest aspect of this whole thing is the ultra-cool black turtleneck set with a whole list of Ajaxy Web 2.0 gradient-fill, extra white-space, pastel color sites from here to Timbuktu getting smacked down by ... ultra uncool Libya.

          Did anybody know Libya owned .ly before this?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by stdarg (456557)

            A better question is why is this country even allowed to own a tld. Time to centralize control of DNS in a locale with better (nobody's perfect) free speech and neutrality laws. Libya can build their own internet if they want a sharia compliant experience.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              A better question is why oyu are anti-self determination and anti-democracy. Let Libya run its own affairs w/o interference. Would you want your neighbor to act as a "central authority" telling you when to paint your house & mow your lawn? Well neither does Libya. They want to run their OWN affairs, not be dictated to.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by twidarkling (1537077)

                Would you want your neighbor to act as a "central authority" telling you when to paint your house & mow your lawn?

                Spoken like someone who's never heard of a homeowner's association.

            • by xaxa (988988) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @09:44AM (#33824562)

              So, you think you should get free speech but not Libya?

              LY is the code for Libya, it's for them to decide how to administer it, just like it's for my country to decide how to administer .UK and for North Korea to handle .KP (which stopped working last month).

      • by fantomas (94850) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:06AM (#33823400)

        Depends on what you consider moral or immoral in your culture.

        A lot of folk howled with laughter in Europe when middle America made a fuss about Janet Jackson showing off her body during Superbowl one year, in mainland Europe you'll see advertising hoardings promoting perfume, moisturisers etc with half naked models and nobody even blinks. While on the other hand a lot of Europeans freak out at aspects of US gun culture that pass without comment across the Atlantic. All over the world people have different opinions on what is right and what is wrong.

        You want to use a Libyan DNS, I guess you have to abide by Libyan rules.... A classic case of a global economy confronting local norms and attitudes. Who is right and who is wrong? how do you decide? (wish I had the answer but alas I don't.....)

        • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:14AM (#33823486)

          A lot of folk howled with laughter in Europe when middle America made a fuss about Janet Jackson

          Actually to be fair a lot of people in the US also couldn't understand what the problem was. However those who complained about it had the louder voice.

          • by Inda (580031)

            A lot of folk howled with laughter in Europe when middle America made a fuss about Janet Jackson

            Actually to be fair a lot of people in the US also couldn't understand what the problem was. However those who complained about it had the louder voice...

            ...and bigger guns.

        • by Dynamoo (527749) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:36AM (#33823724) Homepage
          nic.ly is very clear about this in several places in its regulations [www.nic.ly]: The Applicant certifies that, to the best of his/her knowledge the domain name is not being registered for any activities/purpose not permitted under Libyan law. [..] Domain names must not contain obscene, scandalous, indecent, or contrary to Libyan law or Islamic morality words, phrases nor abbreviations.. So if vb.ly's content broke Libyan laws.. then, tough. Get a Libyan lawyer.
        • by xaxa (988988)

          in mainland Europe you'll see advertising hoardings promoting perfume, moisturisers etc with half naked models and nobody even blinks.

          In all of Europe you'll see half naked advertising models. It's fully naked models than people in some countries blink about [soliscompany.com] (NSFW outside Europe -- includes a picture of a banned [by the industry self-regulator] perfume advert).

          • by quenda (644621)

            Ah ... looking at the photo, its not the nudity but the pose that would have caused objection. Very sexual.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @07:47AM (#33823228)
    Seems fine to me. You don't have to play on their turf
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      Rather stupid to register a domain of any value in a country as loony as Libya, though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Zironic (1112127)

        Well, when you want short domain names you have to go to rather loony countries for them to not be taken yet.

        • I don't get it (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Short domain names can be had on any TLD.

          I fail to see what's so special about an URL ending in .ly, apart from the smug cleverness that some punsters might conceive.

          No one is going to type in such an URL, and clicking works just the same across TLD's. And if you are complaining about 'all the good domains are taken' perhaps you could lobby for the squaters to be rounded up and shot.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            I fail to see what's so special about an URL ending in .ly, apart from the smug cleverness that some punsters might conceive.

            That, apparently, is the entire point.

            sil.ly, no?

        • by mean pun (717227)

          Well, when you want short domain names you have to go to rather loony countries for them to not be taken yet.

          I'm not sure if I'm arguing for or against your point here, but the .us domain is rather empty.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by lowrydr310 (830514)
        Somebody should set up a site there that sells used pinball machine parts.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Seems fine to me. You don't have to play on their turf

      But but but it's short! And it's easier to make funny words in English with that TLD! Therefore, we as American Internetians should have full jurisdiction and sovereignty over it! It's in the constitution, people!

  • by paiute (550198) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:13AM (#33823482)

    dastard.ly

  • Why do these sites have to register in Lybia, of all places?

    Why not .us? toysr.us, come2.us, go2.us, etc, are just as short.

    • Go to a registrar and whois search short domain names for .us. You'll find most (if not all) of them are taken.
      • by stdarg (456557)

        When I search for b.us, I get "b.us is an invalid name." What's up with that?

        "by.us is an invalid name."

        Seems like a minimum of 3 characters is required, I didn't know that.

    • by kalirion (728907)

      bit.us just sounds wrong though.

  • VB (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:20AM (#33823550)

    While letters 'vb' are quite generic and bear no offensive meaning in themselves

    He's obviously not a software developer.

  • by SteeldrivingJon (842919) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:26AM (#33823622) Homepage Journal

    If US states had top-level domains under their control, I can imagine quite a few that would try to do the same thing.

    It's just conservative cultural mores, which come in all religious flavors. Libya doesn't want its domain used for sexual matters, Texas won't let you buy or sell vibrators, and I think some places still enforce the sabbath so that few businesses are open on Sunday. Connecticut doesn't allow take-out sales of alcohol on Sundays. Various localities in the US ban alcohol sales altogether. John Ashcroft covered up a public statue's boob with a curtain when he was AG.

    Talking about sharia just puts it into "oooh, scary muslims! They're so alien and different!" territory.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Myopic (18616)

      Maybe, but sharia law is scary, and these actions are consistent with it. So, maybe, maybe not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ErikZ (55491) *

      If US states had top-level domains under their control, I can imagine quite a few that would try to do the same thing.

      I can imagine winning the lottery, that doesn't mean it's going to happen.

      • "I can imagine winning the lottery, that doesn't mean it's going to happen."

        Try buying a sex toy in Texas. Must be all that sharia law, keeping people from buying vibrators.

    • by stdarg (456557)

      Since when did the actual cause of something become a red herring??

      Would you say fundamentalist Christianity is a red herring too in relation to Texas's enforcement of the sabbath? Or is this excuse business reserved for sharia?

    • Right... (Score:3, Informative)

      So, the US and NL and BE and DE etc governments have NOT sought out such control over the domains for their countries BUT this means nothing to you. That LY HAS sought out the control and uses it, is just the same as western countries NOT seeking such control and not using it.

      An Islam-apologist, you are doing it great.

      • "An Islam-apologist, you are doing it great."

        Australia's government wants to impose mandatory internet filtering. Is it because their government is rife with Muslims?

  • WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:36AM (#33823734) Homepage

    Wait, why the hell are people registering domains in Libya to shorten URLs?

    They don't exactly have a history as a nice place [wikipedia.org] and they have been suspected in supporting terrorism.

    WTF is Twitter doing running stuff through a domain registered in friggin' Libya?? Why not just run a couple through Iran or Myanmar while we're at it?

    • by NevarMore (248971)

      We have to earn their trust so we can get the plutonium and hope they don't find out what we gave them back in return was a bunch of pinball machine parts.

    • by hcdejong (561314)

      Because bit.[TLD] was already taken for every value of TLD where TLD=="nice place"?

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Because bit.[TLD] was already taken for every value of TLD where TLD=="nice place"?

        So, register bich.us or something. ;-)

  • SSDD (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anon-Admin (443764) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:43AM (#33823802) Homepage Journal

    This type stuff has been going on for years. It is nothing new! I used to own xg.nu, on it I ran a large anon server averaging 3.5 million unique hits a month and 500,000 messages a day.
    The island state of Niue Who owns the .nu domain notified me that Anonymity was not permitted and took the domain back. Point is, this happens a lot more than it is reported. There is no real recourse for this, you live, learn, and move on.

    • Re:SSDD (Score:5, Interesting)

      by grcumb (781340) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @05:03PM (#33830372) Homepage Journal

      This type stuff has been going on for years. It is nothing new! I used to own xg.nu, on it I ran a large anon server averaging 3.5 million unique hits a month and 500,000 messages a day. The island state of Niue Who owns the .nu domain notified me that Anonymity was not permitted and took the domain back. Point is, this happens a lot more than it is reported. There is no real recourse for this, you live, learn, and move on.

      I knew the guy who helped establish and run the .nu domain. He's done a lot for the people of that island, and in so doing, he's had to respect the cultural predilections of his fellow islanders, who have been strongly influenced by evangelical Christian beliefs in recent years.

      'Nu' means 'nude' in French and 'now' in Swedish. Guess which country the registrar focused on? Guess which one it had to defend against?

      Revenues from the domain registrations went to provide free wireless Internet access to the entire island, and since then, the island has purchased XO laptops for every single school child, making them the first country to achieve 100% distribution (albeit for only 500 kids).

      But over the years, the government has tried to get its hands on the profits, leading to successive disputes. If the .nu registrar didn't keep a squeaky clean reputation for that ccTLD, he would have been pilloried for his failure. I find it hard to imagine how arguments about Free Speech rights would have improved this particular situation.

  • by CrAlt (3208)

    Everyone make "bit.ly" shortcuts to places like pornotube,tube8,xvideos,etc and email them to the contacts found at http://nic.ly/contactus.php [nic.ly]

  • by CodePwned (1630439) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @09:00AM (#33823970)

    It troubles me to no end the lengths people will go today in the name of religion. It's actually becoming common place for someone to have an extreme view and use the blanket of religion to protect them.

    I have no problem with someone having beliefs, I too have them, but I base them off common sense, not because some book says I should do things. Questioning the institution is essential for growth. The middle east seems stuck in eternal infancy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525)

      It troubles me to no end the lengths people will go today in the name of religion. It's actually becoming common place for someone to have an extreme view and use the blanket of religion to protect them.

      It was always this way. Hell, arguably the USA was founded by a bunch of people who wanted to practise religion in their own way and didn't see how it was the governments' business.

      If you think people will go to extreme lengths today..... emigrating on a sail boat two hundred and fifty years ago was no picnic. A journey that took months, a bunk not much longer (and rather narrower) than the desk I'm sitting at now, any disease had nowhere to go but infect everyone on board. And the food had to be stuff th

  • "I know! I'll run off and register up.kp for my new service! Surely Kim Jong-* won't mind if I toss out some links to starvation in the People's Democratic Republic of Nutjobs!"

    Seriously? It seemed like a good idea to set up a business in the gTLD a country widely known for religious extremity, full well knowing that your business would never be physically tolerated, and that it can be shut down by clicking a checkbox without even having to call in police and bulldozers?

    And perhaps I'd care more if this was

  • Classic example of why URL shorteners should be considered harmful. Twitter is mostly to blame, I've had to shorten URLs for tweets before, but Twitter could employ better tactics than using the full url as the anchor text too.

  • by bl8n8r (649187) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @10:29AM (#33825138)
    they are taking down a website which violated their TOS. Maybe we don't agree with their subjectivity but they are taking much more appropriate measures instead of getting all fundamental extremist over it.

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