Libya Institutes Internet Curfew

Dennis Faas's picture

Libya has followed Egypt's lead in restricting Internet access. But the operators of a service that helps foreign companies take advantage of the country's domain code says it will be unaffected.

As with Egypt, the Internet crackdown is associated with anti-government protests. And as with Egypt, the measures mean all traffic into and out of the country appears to have been completely blocked.

Internet Blocking: a Form of Curfew

However, there is one key difference: the Egyptian incident involved net access going down and then not returning for several days, apparently after officials decided the economic impact on business and financial services was too costly.

In Libya, the blocking appears to be more of a curfew: each night access has been blocked around midnight to six am local time before being restored.

The Internet blocking approach appears designed to serve two purposes: first, it minimizes the effects on businesses. Secondly, on at least one night soldiers fired on protestors during the Internet blackout, suggesting it was timed to make it harder for reports of the shootings to get out. (Source:

Foreign Firms Potentially Affected

Although there are relatively few companies that are seriously affected by a loss of communication with Libyan net users, the country code used online for Libyan sites may have an effect.

That's because Libyan sites end with ".ly" -- which of course lends itself to memorable English language web addresses, including Another use of the site, a service that allows users to create a shortened version of a lengthy web address. This can be useful in, for example, a post on Twitter or a text message where there is limited space.

Nameservers Help Re-Route Internet Traffic

For his part, the chief of the company behind insists there's no immediate problem. He notes that the service works through five routing points known as nameservers, of which only two are based in Libya; all five must be unavailable for the service to stop working. (Source:

The incident has reawakened debate about the wisdom of basing a business around the Libyan domain name. Another US company, which offered a similar service for adult-based websites, had its registration in Libya deleted last October without warning. It was told the content breached local decency laws, but was not given a straight answer about exactly what those laws allowed. (Source:

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