What does Libyan revolution mean for bit.ly?

DomainWire asks what will happen to the popular bit.ly URL shortener if Libya shuts down its Internet service (.ly is the country code for Libya). Several people have noted that no matter how cute the .ly suffix is to us in a domain name, it is ultimately controlled for a loony dictator, and therefore perhaps not suitable as a piece of global network infrastructure.
But if Libya "shuts down" the internet rather than taking aim at a particular service (and it could take aim at bit.ly given its use to spread news about Libya on Twitter), what happens to anything on the .ly domain name?

We can look to what happened in Egypt for a very recent and relevant answer.

When Egypt stymied the internet the primary servers the ccTLD operators used were inaccessible as they were in Egypt. This meant they couldn't resolve addresses.

In the case of the ASCII .eg domain name there were secondary servers that had cached the primary, meaning .eg domains were still accessible.

Is Bit.ly Toast if Libya Shuts Down the Internet?

(Image: Who's Next..., a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from showmeone's photostream)


  1. This was asked on Quora, and answered by
    John Borthwick, CEO of bit.ly


    He says:

    “Should Libya block Internet traffic, as Egypt did, it will not effect http://bit.ly or any .ly domain.

    For .ly domains to be unresolvable the five .ly root servers that are authoritative *all* have to be offline, or responding with empty responses. Of the five root nameservers for the .ly TLD: two are based in Oregon, one is in the Netherlands and two are in Libya. ”

    So, assuming that’s true, nothing will happen to Bit.ly

  2. I come to Boing Boing almost exclusively through bit.ly via Twitterd. If you’re concerned enough about the service to post this, maybe Boing Boing needs to find — or make — a new URL shortener. Twitter has their own shortener, as does Google… although I don’t know if those countries and/or suffixes are any more stable…

  3. Revolution and liberty sweep the Arab world! Our intrepid reporters are on the spot and ask the questions that matter to humanity!
    Important Question #1: will your Twitter experience be affected?

    Sometimes I think that I left reality behind a decade ago and slipped into a parallel universe controlled by the disembodied mind of Philip K. Dick.
    It would be depressing if it weren’t so funny.

    1. Well, in fairness to BoingBoing they’ve covered the current developments in the mideast from the get-go; and this particular piece of the story has interest to the millions of net users affected. The inclusion of such a story (on a techy-tinted blog no less) doesn’t cheapen the loss of life nor does it require justification. Besides, BB isn’t a news site.

      Of course, If you’d like to read a blog about loss of life in the Arab world (besides the bible or the quran I mean) there is no shortage of them… just make sure you visit them without relying on URL shorteners ;)

  4. No surprise here: URL shorteners break the web by acting as a single point of failure for millions of links that would otherwise have no need whatsoever to go through them. All this just because one stupid little service got popular on the back of an artificial character count restriction that people enjoyed working within and around.

  5. Why Libya won’t riot…
    Population: 6.4 million.
    GDP : 76 billion

    Muammar al-Gaddafi might be as mad as a hatter, but when you are wiping your ass oil dollars, who gives a sh*t?

  6. This letter is in response to the articles covering the civil unrest
    occurring in Libya.

    As a citizen of and believer in democracy, I applaud the efforts of the
    Libyan people. Their efforts are similar to what is happening in Yemen,
    Algeria and Bahrain as well as the most recent revolutions in Egypt and

    Believe it or not, one thing that trumps capitalism and political
    correctness in the United States is the right to have one’s voice heard.
    This is the foundation of which our democracy is built on. The Libyan
    people should continue to defy Moammar Gadhafi’s powerful
    security forces so that Libyan democracy can begin to thrive. It is
    unfortunate that the United States compromised on one of its most
    fundamental values in order to protect its economic interests in the
    Middle East; something that happens all too often domestically as well.
    It is not the Libyan people that are attempting to seize power but rather
    it is those currently in power who have engaged in intimidation to prevent
    the will of the people from being heard. Why else would they stoop to such
    underhanded tactics to block various means of communication among the
    citizens of Libya? Why is the government in power utilizing such
    political strong-arm tactics as the use of violence?

    Moammar Gadhafi, you have had forty-two years to lead Libya and have
    failed them by your own choosing. The days of the despotic regime are
    finally coming to an end as it appears the desire for freedom will continue
    to sweep among the Arab nations. Accordingly, let the call go forth among
    all citizens of Libya that your brothers and sisters of democracy from all
    over the world are with you during every trial and tribulation you may
    encounter during this crisis. To the people of Libya, the trumpet of
    freedom beckons you to rise in protest and ensure your voice to preserve
    your sacred heritage, promote your children’s future and obtain the
    blessings of liberty we all cherish. Moammar Gadhafi, let the people

    Cleveland, OH USA

  7. As mentioned above, bit.ly will not go down. If it does, why not just move the entire website, URLs and all, to bit.li?

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