Bit.ly, the popular URL shortening service, along with a number of other popular websites registered with the Libyan .ly country code stand the risk of shutting down thanks to a new aggressive editorial policy that seems to be shaping up at NIC.ly -the Libyan domain registry controller. From what we hear, the domain registry controller has proposed that .ly domain names that violate the Libyan Islamic Sharia code be deregistered. NIC.ly also proposed last year that short domain names with less than 4 letters be limited for local Libyans alone.
Ben Matcalfe, whose URL redirector website, vb.ly was deregistered recently, points out that websites like Bit.ly have a lot to lose since they too are URL redirectors and have no real control over the destination link. He writes,
“However, the fact that NIC.ly are asserting editorial control over the content of any website using a .ly domain is perhaps the most troubling to any .ly domain owner and indeed the internet community at large. Not only is it paramount to censorship and doesn’t reflect the decoupled nature of domains vs websites, but it sets a dangerous president in the space.”
However, the lines are not clearly drawn in this case and it will be interesting to see how Bit.ly and the other popular services like HootSuite (with their ow.ly service) and Ad.ly work this one out.