Libya takes hard line on .ly link shortening domains

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The Libyan government has removed an adult-friendly link-shortening service from the web, saying that it fell foul of local laws.

It could have an impact on similar services registered in Libya.

The domain vb.ly was revoked and the site taken offline by NIC.ly, the body that controls Libyan web addresses.

Co-founder of vb.ly Ben Metcalfe warned that "other ly domains are being deregistered and removed without warning".

"The domain was seized by the Libyan domain registry for reasons which seemed to be kept obscure until we escalated the issue," he wrote.

"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."

URL shortening is a technique that allows users to significantly condense often long web addresses to more manageable and memorable links.

The Libyan crackdown 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.

In June the registration of .ly domains shorter than four characters were limited to companies and individuals that lived in Libya.

Mr Alaeddin ElSharif from NIC.ly 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.

"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," he said.

NIC.ly has not responded to the BBC's requests for comment on the story.

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