Josh Bourne ⬥ 24 February
News about the political unrest in Libya has been flooding the airwaves since protests broke out last week. According to ZDNet, on Friday night, Libya was cut off from the Internet just hours before soldiers began massacring protesters, killing hundreds over the course of the weekend.
In Libya, the Internet is controlled by Libya Telecom & Technology, a telecommunications company chaired by the son of dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi. Until now, the country has enjoyed relatively open Internet access, at least as compared to other dictatorships like Cuba and North Korea. Those of you who are up on your ccTLD knowledge know that Libya’s country code is .LY – the TLD used for popular URL shorteners Bit.Ly and Ow.Ly.
Fortunately, especially for active Twitter users, Libya’s imposed exile from the Internet does not mean that .LY, and the sites hosted on it, will cease to function – at least not right away. .LY uses five root servers, only two of which are located in Libya (another two are located in Oregon, and the last is located in the Netherlands). These servers can keep .LY domains running for a maximum of 28 days. In technical terms, the servers are configured such that the Start of Authority Record expiry time to live is 2,419,200, or roughly 28 days.
If the Libyan government keeps the Internet cut off, .LY addresses will eventually die off as well. While it helps that there are .LY servers outside the country to keep domains up and running temporarily in situations like these, the Libya example shows that ccTLDs are not impervious to government-mandated shutdowns. Companies that choose to use ccTLDs for business purposes should be aware of this fact, and have contingency plans for such situations.