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Libya Shuts Down Internet (readwriteweb.com)
152 points by pitdesi on Feb 20, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 84 comments

If you're using a .ly domain for your startup, this should give you pause. Not because of potential downtime, but because by buying a .ly domain, you are directly financing this oppressive regime.

I would say buying their oil has more of an influence, rather than owning a .ly domain. The earning for the domains are probably insignificant compared to the oil.

True, but it's a lot easier for the average hacker to stop buying their domains than their oil.

Agree. The point was that it's more of a principle not buying the .ly domains rather than something having a real economic impact.

Use less oil? I don't know how much oil comes from Libya, but you might be able to deny them more money by using less oil than not using a .ly domain (which is only a couple of dollars a year).

The USA buys about 20% of its oil from Canada, buy more from us.

this is ridiculous.

yeah, let's all stop buying .ly domains and go on driving a Hummer to work, mission accomplished.

no, you should neither buy .ly nor drive a Hummer.

real hackers have a perspective about the world things, I hope.

(Full disclosure: Jeep owner. It's a diesel)

Oil is fungible, .ly domains are not.

This should be upvoted far more than it is, because it is completely correct. Oil is a global commodity with a standard price; if you don't buy oil from Libya, you'll buy it from someone else for same price, and someone else will buy it from Libya at that price anyway; boycotting oil from them accomplishes nothing.

.ly domains do not work the same way. If you don't pay X$/yr for that domain, it's highly unlikely that someone else will buy it for the same price, since you probably tailored the domain to your business--so you are directly funding the regime with that money in a way oil is not.

edit: okay good, the parent was at 1 karma when I posted this and I was annoyed.

"it's highly unlikely that someone else will buy it for the same price, since you probably tailored the domain to your business"

I am not sure I agree with it. It seems against the notion that multiple people are working on your business idea at a given time. If bit.ly decided to not buy this domain, do you think it is unlikely someone else would not buy it by now regardless of existence of url shortener?

Maybe I missed your point and am completely off.

It's possible bit.ly would be bought up by now, but most less common ones I don't think would be. Poking around the internet, it looks like a .ly domain is at least $75 annually, which is a lot of money to just domain-squat on (especially since there are probably a many fewer accidental visits to .ly domains than to .com ones.) There doesn't even appear to be squatting on many variants of bit.ly (tried bti.ly, bot.ly, bpt.ly).

are you sure? .ly domains look pretty fungible to me now.

Exactly; 10$/yr is nothing compared to oil revenues.

EDIT: Hm, my bad, I didn't bother to look it up, just assumed it's like all other top level domains.

$10/year? Where does a .ly domain cost that much? Everywhere I've seen, those sell for $150/year

For now.... turning off people's ability to download Mad Men, porn, farmville and starcraft2 is NOT a winning strategy for staying in power.

I give Gaddafi two weeks....

Maybe. He's likely to be more ruthless than Mubarak was, since he's not all that reliant on external support these days (whereas the US propped up the Mubarak gov't for quite a while). I give him longer than that.

What odds are you offering?

looks to be about 50/50 that he's gone by the end of the year: http://www.intrade.com/jsp/intrade/trading/t_index.jsp?selCo...


I'm not sure betting on WMD attacks is smart. It would be terrible if people were investing with inside information.

You could be able to squeeze a novel out of this idea. Or, at the very least, an episode of a crime-related TV show.

"They're funding their program through WMDPool.com! Trace the IP address!"

Is oppressive.ly registered?

wahoo bit.ly :)

For those who are interested, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/20/unrest-morocco-i... says that protests are also happening in Morocco, Iran, Algeria, Yemen and China.

If this continues to spread it could end up being the biggest change in geopolitics since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

I think even if it stopped now, it's already the biggest geopolitical event since then—the only thing that comes close would be the US Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, but this is bigger. If it continues it may become the defining event of the 21st century, or at least the first half thereof.

Wikipedia was an article on the 2010-2011 Middle East and Arab wold protests, with quite an alarming map.


I personally found it very inspiring to see that so many countries in northern Africa and the Middle East have had protests against their governments. Besides Tunisia, I honestly was ignorant of anything else that was going on over there until Egypt got all the attention it did here in the states, of which I am assuming is because they are such close allies/associates to the US.

One of the biggest commonalities between these countries is a very large bulge at the young end of their population statistics. These are countries with a large population of young people. That fits pretty well - a young person with no job and no prospects is going to have the energy and stamina to sit in protest.

My question is : how did these countries end up with so many young people from a (relatively) small older population? Did everyone have 10 children? Did all the old people die (or leave)?

I'm genuinely curious about this one.

Maybe comes from the fact that child mortality has reduced dramatically.

But the habit in this countries of having more than 5 children hasn't changed yet? Probably it takes a generation for families to adapt to the fact that you don't longe need to have several children to make sure that some of them survive to adulthood.

Take a look at this TED presentation for some amazing facts. http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_y...

When they changed to Industrial birth rates did not decrease as of yet to catch up with the change..hence the high young people amounts..

Those countries with a longer time as an Industrial nation have lower birth rates..USA, UK, etc..

Protests/riots also reported in Iraq:


Sounds like they're loving their new "democracy" :-/

9/11 was the biggest geopolitical change since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Was it?

9/11 didn't change any borders. It didn't change the set of US allies and enemies, neither did it cause a change of government in US. It only caused a protracted but still relatively small war in Afghanistan. Its government fell but this change didn't spread to other countries. One could argue that 9/11 was a factor in the growth of radical Islamism (cf. speeches by Islamic leaders all over Europe, incidents in Netherlands, etc) but apart from the London bombings we didn't have any major incident linked to 9/11.

The terrorist attacks shaped a lot of foreign and domestic policy. There was a major shift towards nationalism and decreased privacy rights all over the western world.

The uprising in egypt was relatively peaceful. The media spotlight was on and Mubarak may have restrained from using force to save his own skin. Comparing the two because Egypt also shut down the internet is natural, but Mubarak is not Qaddafi. Even if the internet shut down is ineffective at quashing dissent, it seems unlikely that Libya's path will be at all similar to Egypt.

I think there is a very crucial similarity: there are signs that the military is refusing to shoot their own people. It's why ultimately the revolution in Egypt worked.

It's a great precedent, especially if you're the military and you want to be rid of the dictator and grab power yourself.

Mubarak may have restrained from using force to save his own skin

My understanding is that he did order the military to attack the protesters, and they refused. At that point, his focus probably shifted to just getting out alive.

"At that point, his focus probably shifted to just getting out alive."

And with as much fiat currency credits as he could.

I would be willing to bet he didn't leave with any paper based currency. I'm guessing that, like the Tunisian president, part of the delay was loading the gold into his vehicles for departure.

When fleeing despots flee, they take the original monetary unit with them. Universally accepted, not subject to government induced devaluations and virtually untraceable : Gold.

I'd imagine Mubarak has plenty of of Euros and USD in Swiss bank accounts, which he probably was working on transferring to backup accounts for the past few weeks.

Unfortunately the protesters will pay the price. I'm not sure there is anything the rest of the world can do to help, or at least the US, because foreign military force delegitimizes any home grown revolution. When the group in power are willing to use deadly force the protesters won't be able to win based on numbers only. If Egypt's military had crushed the protesters I doubt it would have turned out the same way.

While you may have a point. There was this one time when a foreign military helped a homegrown revolution and it seemed to work out alright....


One key point: we were asking the French to help.


I had to use a Google cache article because when I click the original CNN link it goes to a new updated article.

The quote:

"We have no freedom here," she said. "I speak to all the world, to America, to Mr. Obama: Please help us. We (did) nothing. We want to live a good life."

Not that I support an interventionist policy, but this was shared to refute your point.

I'm not fully cognizant of the situation. I wasn't saying that the Libyans aren't asking, I was just pointing out a key element that made the French intervention a fruitful one.

However, there are varying degrees of asking for help. The American revolutionaries were sending formal representatives to France to plead their case. As far as I know, there is one person pleading for help being quoted by a reporter. That's a bit different.

Even if it's true that the protesters can't win in a straight up battle, time is on their side, and there is no workable long term strategy for a government when the mass of its people are against it and a large segment is willing to brave gunfire and die for their rights. The regime can take the whole country down with them, but they can't regain control. Every bureaucracy including the military will rot from the inside as people see the essential brutality of the state unmasked and defect at all levels. There will be strikes and disobedience at every level. A state cannot function in this way for long regardless of how much firepower it commands, if for no other reason than eventually it will simply go broke.

So long Gadhafi.

There are lots of things the US can do to support a home grown revolution without directly sending in our military. In fact, we have multiple three letter agencies that specialize in exactly that type of support.

And we've seen how well that's worked in the past... If there is even a whiff of the CIA helping out the protesters a good chunk of the Middle East will chalk up the whole revolution to the US meddling in the Middle East. I think that would detract from it's legitimacy and prevent the sentiment from spreading to other countries.

indeed if you tune in to twitter channel #lybia you can hear a lot about shootings. Tweets say that there are ~500 shot people in Lybia.

Disclaimer: I don't use twitter, but I don't know of any other real time source of info.

When was this shutdown? my twitter stream has news out of Tripoli 15 seconds ago.


There IS internet, but he is cutting power of sporadically.

Reports of his son Saif being shot, and Gaddafis fleeing to Venezuela.

Several Libyan ambassadors already resigned.

Various military units defected, and sided with the public against the hired mercenaries.

It seems that some (hackers?) opened dial-up servers for them in foreign countries. Some pages are giving these numbers and the login to connect.

Not any hackers, the Dutch ISP xs4all is givin away free dialup, others too (I even tweeted one such yesterday)

But, no, a good chunk of Tripoli is online. Benghazi is devastated but victorious.

FWIW, Gaddafi is on his way out :-) Few more days (maybe hours!)

Basically, if you've reached the point of cutting of internet, you've reached the point where you're going to be killing your own populace to hold on.

This thought puts the proposed US Internet Shutoff switch in a new light for me.

> This thought puts the proposed US Internet Shutoff switch in a new light for me.

I'm glad, this is exactly the light I saw it in in the beginning. A 'shutoff' for any form of communication is always a form of supreme oppression.

Being able to silence peoples objections just means they're going to stop shouting and tweeting, and start bashing the message into your skull until you get the point that they don't like you.

Google transparency traffic also suggests that the shutdowns have been sporadic. Maybe it's a kind of internet curfew.

Are those sources reliable? I note that Al Jazeera reports Saif al-Islam making a televised address very recently:


"Early Monday" Libyan time means within last 4 hours; your comment was posted 4 hours ago, so either I screwed up time zones, or the address was pre-recorded, or the reports of his being shot are inaccurate.

edit: According to this liveblog the address started around 1:00 AM Libyan time, or 23:00 UTC/GMT:


I was in the thick of the confusion, listening to the firehouse.

The son is OK but ambassadors have resigned.

One problem I see with this strategy is that it signifies a recognition of the resistance. If I were Gaddhafi, I'd be doing everything to downplay the significance of the protests, make it seem like a fringe element that won't amount to anything. When you shut down the internets, you're telling people "This is for real. It's going down right now, time to choose a side. You're closer than you think."

In the fullness of time, it will probably be traced back as one of Mubarak's mistakes, as well. Because it propelled the story from the background to the foreground - 'Egypt shuts off internet' is a pretty major headline. It also let the protestors know that they were hurting the regime.

But then I wouldn't expect a north-african dictator really understanding the consequences. They are much more likely to see it in a pure military sense - the enemy are communicating using the internet. Let's close the internet.

The luxury of being an armchair prognosticator. (I don't disagree with you)

I think it's hard to downplay protests when there are thousands on streets rioting.

Google suggests that it's a periodic flatline rather than a complete blackout. Maybe a sort of internet curfew outside of business hours.


That's a neat proxy of Libyan internet connectivity.

Unencrypted Google searches went to near zero for several hours twice recently. The rest of the time they've been getting through, but a bit less than usual. The graph for Gmail is similar.


YouTube is a different story. It looks like YouTube in Libya got blocked about three days ago, yet there's still a little bit of YouTube traffic getting through.


So sad. Many people dying over there. I wish all citizens over there all the best.

I've heard that part of the army is now supporting the protesters, which is a very good sign.

Absolutely a good sign. Hope it puts things in their favor. There have already been too many deaths.

First they laugh at you...

Then they ignore you...

Then they shut down your internet...

Then you win?

(I hope...)

Then they shut down your internet...

Then you win?

At best, it's an admission of defeat.

At worst, it's an admission that you're repressive and you don't care who knows it.

I think with Gaddafi he never really bothered to hide behind a fig leaf of democracy or even legitimacy with other governments. The Libyan government was always a lot more totalitarian than the Egyptian, and didn't really pretend.

I have a friend who has worked in Libya and has nothing nice to say about it. He told me that the airport is still littered with the wrecks of planes from Reagans' bombing in the 1980's. Whether they are still there as a reminder of the 'imperial west' or because the Libyans are too lazy to clean them up is not known. Having seen the amount of litter in pictures of Libya, it's harder still to say for sure.

On the flip-side I really hope Libya becomes an open-access free and secular state in my lifetime. There is some really cool architectural/historical things in Libya that is effectively off-limits to anyone but the most intrepid and determined traveller. Just imagine the ability to take a trip through the mediterranean middle east without having constant border issues, government minders, etc etc. I suppose it's a somewhat selfish view, but I bet a few of the locals wouldn't mind a more organised tourist trade.

It would be cool if they only shut down the Internet and you win.

s/ignore you/shoot at you/

Related: Uganda's president just won elections extending his 25 years in power.


Unbelievable how much tyranny, fraud and corruption goes unpunished around the world.

A really interesting piece by the BBC on the issues in the region..


Can anyone comment, not on the social harm caused by using an .ly domain, but rather the risk of failure of the DNS system to continue to honor your records.

I would presume that Libya has outsourced the DNS root servers and administration outside their country. Does anyone know who administers .ly from a practical standpoint? Is there a risk of them becoming unavailable if the regime falls (or as a tactic used against their own citizens)?

This article is from February 18. All routes came back up about 7 hours later. Though since then there have been reports of internal outages, dns blocks, throttling, etc..

Gaddafi's son, Saif, live stream: http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/

On mac, I've had persistent problems with the live stream directly on the AJ site, but youtube also carries it:


(2nd video box on the page)

They just keep spouting the Orwellian bs. It's all they know.

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall - think of it, ALWAYS. --Gandhi

[Even though individual tyrants usually seem unable to conceive that this will apply to them]

More as a pedantic nitpick, and not that it's necessarily relevant, in the sense that it may not undermine the veracity of the claim "Libya shuts down Internet":

Traceroutes (or pings) halting at a certain point does not a dead route necessarily make. Traceroute operates by setting the TTL (Time to Live) field of a packet to 1 and forwarding it along.

In principle, routers that reach a value of 0 when they decrement the TTL drop the packet and send a backward ICMP TTL-exceeded-in-transit notification to the sender, which is how the address of the router is discovered. Then traceroute sends out another datagram, increases the TTL by 1, and so on until the desired endpoint is reached or a maximum TTL value is exceeded (to avoid getting the datagram into routing loops).

In practice, some networks - especially at the edge, outside the core infrastructure of large backbone haulers - block outgoing ICMP TTL-exceeded-in-transit messages, and sometimes all ICMP, including ICMP echo reply, administratively prohibited, and port unreachable messages. These are all diagnostically useful, but can also be used to profile an endpoint or map the interior of a network. I would especially expect a government like Libya's to make a policy of blocking such revealing messages at all border routers associated with national-level Internet egress points.

There is a constant and lively debate in the BGP and inter-domain networking community about the relative benefit of ICMP messages for troubleshooting and normal operations (after all, there was a reason the protocol was created) vs. the perceived security liabilities of having unrestricted two-way ICMP interactions with the rest of the Internet.

So, it's not clear what it means for traceroutes through the Telecom Italia AS to "fail," nor does this necessarily indicate that Libya has gone dark. It would be more convincing if all BGP announcements associated with Libyan blocks were withdrawn, although that would only happen if every one of their blocks was a provider-independent, RIR (regional Internet registry, RIPE in Libya's case)-issued block, not a delegated part of a foreign provider's larger aggregate announcement, so even then, who knows.

For what it's worth, I am unable to reach the same conclusion as the article, at least at this moment. Here is the latest list of allocations to Libya from http://countries.nerd.dk[1]:

   sasha@octavia:~$ egrep 'ly$' zz.countries.nerd.dk.rbldnsd : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :
If you go find your nearest BGP looking glass (such as: 'telnet route-server.gblx.net' as I prefer the Cisco interface, you can find others at www.bgp4.as/looking-glasses) and do, for example:

   show ip bgp
... you will find the announcements for all of the above alive and well.

P.S. Why does everyone who says "if you have a .ly domain, you are supporting the Gaddafi regime!" assume that the .ly TLD is managed directly by Libya? [2] Many smaller, less Internet-involved (if not wholly Internet-unconnected) countries outsource management and use of their TLD to foreign companies in exchange for licensing fees.

EDIT: It does appear that '.ly' is managed from inside Libya now, but if so, that's a relatively recent development. There was a UK company that managed the 'ly' zone for quite some time.

Now the primary nameserver seems to be dns1.lttnet.net, associated with Libyan Telecom and Technology, and whose IP is and indeed part of one of the Libyan allocations above (

If it's stability you're concerned about, then look who else is involved as a backup other than lttnet.net:

   sasha@octavia:~$ host -t SOA ly
   ly has SOA record dns.lttnet.net. khaleds.lttnet.net. 201102220 3600 900 2419200 600
   sasha@octavia:~$ host -t NS ly
   ly name server dns1.lttnet.net.
   ly name server ns-ly.ripe.net.
   ly name server dns.lttnet.net.
   ly name server phloem.uoregon.edu.
   ly name server auth02.ns.uu.net.
Don't jump to conclusions.


[1] Most of these are /27s and smaller that are part of larger aggregates. I can't quite put my finger on why such small subnets are listed, given that the smallest announcement allowed in the global BGP table is a class C (/24). I would guess this list was compiled from the more granular delegation data found in WHOIS records, not a full BGP view.

[2] Also, you only started caring about this now?

"P.S. Why does everyone who says "if you have a .ly domain, you are supporting the Gaddafi regime!" assume that the .ly TLD is managed directly by Libya? [2] Many smaller, less Internet-involved (if not wholly Internet-unconnected) countries outsource management and use of their TLD to foreign companies in exchange for licensing fees."

If this is the case, and someone is paying for a .ly domain, then their payments go to Libya in the form of licensing fees, thus supporting the regime.

In a broad sense, perhaps, but this implies a 1:1 correlation about the licensing arrangement that remains to be established.

More importantly, Mr. Muammar has been in power since the 1969 coup. Now we are supposed to start caring about his trafficking in adverb suffixes?

I can't see that anything specific about the correlation is implied.

And why not care now? Which is worse - to care too late, or to not care at all?

If you own a .ly TLD I'd recommend slapping a 301 redirect on it and grabbing yourself a .com or something not attached to such a unstable country.

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