Monday, October 11, 2010

Lemming Tracks: ccTLD, .ly, Libya, and Censorship

The Lemming remembers the 'good old days,' when some folks in America said things like "America: love it or leave it." The same folks often also expressed the sentiment that anybody who disagreed with or criticized 'the government' should be locked up. Or shot.

That was then, this is now. Here in America, some folks still think that anybody who disagrees with or criticizes 'the government' should be sanctioned. It's not the same folks as it was in the sixties - but the attitude doesn't seem to be all that different.

Still, it could be worse. (October 10, 2010)

One thing that has changed in the last half-century is how much decisions made in one country affect folks living in another. And, how fast. Which brings the Lemming to this weirdness in the news:

Top-Level Domains, Morality, and Trouble

TLDs, or Top-Level Domain, those things you see at the end of a URL, like ".com" or ".org," have had a number of purposes over the years - some of them debatable, some controversial. The point is, some are associated with particular countries, like ".uk" - or ".ly."

But they're not just associated with particular countries, apparently. That's where it got interesting:
"Libya Not Taking the Internet Light.LY"
FOXNews (October 8, 2010)

"Could Muammar al-Qaddafi shut down your website for violating Libya's religious laws? If your domain name ends in .ly -- it appears so.

"The Libyan government removed the URL-shortening service from the Web for hosting content the country found offensive -- in this case, showing bare arms. Libya is prepared to go after others too, saying that .ly domains shorter than four characters are allowed only for companies or people in Libya.

" 'The domain's purpose (proclaimed by its registrants themselves) was to serve as a 'sex-friendly URL shortener' mainly for adult uses,' explained a statement posted to the website of the Libyan agency that controls the .ly domains. This places 'by definition in the porn/adult site category,' the agency said.

"The service was started by a former sex columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle named Violet Blue -- not to be confused with the porn actress of the same name -- perhaps another reason the conservative Libyan government took issue...."

The Lemming has four surviving kids - and cares about what they've been exposed to. I also got very, very, concerned when some outfit says that they want to protect the children from the Wicked, Wicked Web. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 9, 2008)

Which is part of why the Lemming isn't too pleased with Libya's leader and his efforts to save the world from bare arms.

Bare Arms, Business, and Getting a Grip

The Lemming thinks it's anyone's guess how much the Libyan leader's efforts to ban bare arms stems from an offended moral sense, how much is politically motivated, and how many other factors are in play.

What I think is important here is that a whole lot of folks and many businesses are going to be hurt as a result of this shutdown.
Porn, Real or Imagined
Libya's Telecom and Technology's Web services Department explained that " 'Pornography and adult material aren't allowed under Libyan Law, therefore we removed the domain,' " (FOXNews), which puts me in the position of apparently defending porn.

Violet Blue (of says that the domain in question isn't pornographic - and that Libya's authorities took the domain down without warning.
Some North African Country Doesn't Like Bare Arms: So What?
What's the big deal? There's the URL-shortening service, for one. It's used by,, and The New York Times. has backup domains, including, so they may be able to stay in business. Unless the Northern Marianna Islands follow Libya's lead. the TLD ".mp" is for the N. M. Islands.

TLDs that are for countries, by the way, are country code top-level domains, or ccTLD.

The Lemming thinks that Libya's leader is out of line, yanking the domain - particularly since it seems to have been done without warming.

The Lemming also thinks that everyone who decided that using a .ly ccTLD without taking the country's customs and assumptions into account wasn't doing their homework. It's not all that hard, these days, to do a little research on the cultures and customs of just about any country on Earth. Like Guernsey. Which is another topic.

Learning to Live in a Global Community

Like it or not, we live in a world where what the leader of a North African country doesn't like can affect people living and working in North America. Particularly if they decided to use a ccTLD that was assigned to his country.

And, from another point of view, a world that doesn't seem to care about the wicked practice of showing bare arms.

Folks who grew up assuming that people from the 'right sort' of places could act as they please - no matter what the 'natives' thought - have been on a steep learning curve.

So have folks who grew up in societies that were comparatively isolated from the rest of the world until a few generations ago.

Then there's the matter of whether or not it's okay to disagree with a nation's leaders: and that's yet another topic.

Related posts:Background:
  • "Glossary"
    ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)

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