Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

Summary: Once more a country, Libya this time, turns off the Internet and brings out the bayonets. For now, though, Web services, such as bit.ly, which use Libyan domain names, will continue to work.

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TOPICS: Browser
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First, Libya blocked news sites and Facebook. Then, beginning Friday night, according to Arbor Networks, a network security and Internet monitoring company, announced that Libya had cut itself off from the Internet. Hours later the Libyan dictator's solders started slaughtering protesters. As of Sunday afternoon, U.S. Eastern time the death toll was above 200 in the city of Benghazi alone.

Welcome to 2011. While dictators in the most repressive regimes, such as North Korea and Cuba, have long kept Internet contact to the world to a bare minimum, less restrictive dictatorships, such as Egypt and Libya left the doors to the Internet cracked open to the public. Now, though, realizing that they could no longer hide their abuses from a world a Twitter tweet away, the new model autocracies, such as Libya and Bahrain have realized that they need to cut their Internet links before bringing out the guns.

As in Bahrain, Libya's Internet is essentially owned and controlled by the government through a telecommunication company Libya Telecom & Technology. Its chairman is the dictator's Moammar Gadhafi's eldest son. Mobile phone services in Libya are also under the control of the government. So far though the government doesn't seem to have cut international phone services off-perhaps because that's harder to do without cutting off local telephone service.

Unlike Egypt or Bahrain though, Libya is the home domain of a well-known Internet service, the bit.ly URL tracking and shorting service. Bit.ly, which is operated by the U.S. company of the same name, is used in the popular social network client Tweetdeck. Bit.ly users won't have anything to worry about though in the short run.

In a Quora, the social network answering service, response Bit.ly CEO John Borthwick, wrote, "Should Libya block Internet traffic, as Egypt did, it will not affect http://bit.ly or any .ly domain."

Borthwick continued, "For .ly domains to be unresolvable the five .ly root servers that are authoritative *all* have to be offline, or responding with empty responses. Of the five root name-servers for the .ly TLD [Top Level Domain]: two are based in Oregon, one is in the Netherlands and two are in Libya."

He then went to assure Bit.ly users that they "will continue to do everything we can to ensure we offer our users the best service we possibly can. That includes offering options around which top level domain you use. Many users choose to use http://j.mp/ as an alternative to http://bit.ly, given that it is shorter. And some use http://bitly.com. "

Of course, if Libya were to keep its Internet turned off for more than a few days, then the  "ly" addresses will  run into trouble. As Internet engineer Kim Davies explained on Quora, "It is a sense of false confidence to state that country-code domains are impervious to these kinds of government-mandated Internet shutdowns. If a country like Libya decides to shut down the Internet affecting the registry operations of .LY, while it is unlikely to have an immediate effect unless they explicitly empty the registry data, it can have a devastating effect in short order."

"Borthwick states that because the authoritative servers (they are not root servers) for .LY are located outside the country it is safe, but the authoritative servers outside the country are reliant on being capable of obtaining updates from the .LY registry inside the country. If they are unable to succeed in getting updates, at some point they will consider the data they have stale and stop providing information on the .LY domain," continued Davies.

"In the case of .LY, the absolute maximum for that is configured for 28 days (SOA [Start of Authority Record] expiry TTL [Time to Live] is 2419200 seconds). Without external intervention, the availability of .LY domains would be compromised somewhere between 0 and 28 days if the Libyan registry is cut off the Internet," Davies concluded.

So, while bit.ly and other .ly Web sites and services that aren't hosted in Libya won't be seeing their TTL expiring anytime soon, eventually, if Libya were to stay off the Internet, they would die off.

Of course, the far more important issue is that while Libya keeps its Internet off, its government is trying to kill off its critics. The Internet silence that falls when an authoritative regime starts to slaughter its citizens is far more chilling than any subsidiary effect it might have on the global Internet.

Topic: Browser

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24 comments
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  • Fight or flight

    It's basic fight or flight mentality. For all the bluster, Gadaffi is afraid. <br><br>He is in *fight* mentality, to switch to flight, they have to target him personally, he has to believe he needs to flee to survive. For old people they project their life into their children too. A threat to his kids is a threat to him. <br><br>If they can turn the rank and file soldiers to their cause, as the Egyptians did, then he will flip. The chants calling on the Egyptian army to join their Egyptian cause were a very unrated success. Libyans should do likewise.<br><br>Then there's the Internet, USA centric news sees the world through USA centric glasses. I bet very few in Libya use or care less about the net... it's like saying 'Libyans, inspired by a 'Second Life' campaign, or inspired by a 'MySpace' page.... you see the point. Facebook PR may hijack the Egyptian revolution, but Egyptians knew what they wanted, Facebook just market Facebook, it didn't overthrow Mubarak.<br><br>.ly is some fraction of the USA interest. Zdnet needs a technological angle and .ly is the best they can do. They'd (& you'd) like to talk about what's going on in these dictatorships, but how to make it technology based?<br><br>So the motivations of everyone I think are clear enough. But the way forward? I don't know.<br><br>IMHO, I suggest Libyans call on rank and file soldiers to back their cause, I suggest Clinton stick to a clear message this time, 'power to the people'. I suggest that William Hague just shut up. I suggest no foreign power ever express one word of support for a dictator over the people of a country because dictators die and with them the dictatorship dies, whereas democracies are larger than the leaders who come and go.<br><br>Nobody can support a King who farts, or a dictator who is laughed at by his leader peers. Gadaffis farts smell really bad, and his hair is laughably dyed black like the vain *insecure* old man he is... there's a caricature there somewhere.
    guihombre
    • RE: Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

      @guihombre

      I whole-heartedly agree, but the problem is not the Libyan military, its the mercenaries that slimy fuck Gadaffi has hired to kill the protesters. Its difficult for a countries army to kill their own people, and Gadaffi knows this.

      Money + Mercenaries (the same kind used by Mubarak, his "personal guards")= suppression of the worst kind, one I fear Libyans will be unable to break free of without the full backing of the military, fellow arab nations and most importantly the world.
      Insubordinate90
      • Splits

        @Insubordinate90,<br>All dictator army are by definition Mercenaries, look at Mubarak, one of his attempts was to raise the public pay, i.e. the army/police can get more money if they support Mubarak... but he was already a figure of weakness.<br><br>IMHO, they only need to get a portion of the regular army on their side. It's enough to put doubt in the minds of each soldier. To shoot their own people they need to feel secure enough to not fear reprisals should Gadaffi be ejected.. or when he dies... he's old... they are young... he will die before them, are they sure the next leader will protect them for shooting their own people?<br>And if they see mercenaries as separate from them, but yet their actions linked?? Even easier for a soldier to believe he is on the wrong side, the losing dictator vs the winning democracy.<br><br>Conversely, suppose supporters call for punishment of the army... by definition each soldier will think it's better to crush the protests to prevent this.<br><br>Bahrain too, could flip to democracy in an instant if Obama came out and demanded it. Even to turn the guns of one ship towards a Al Khalifa royal palace would be symbolic humiliation for those 'powerful' tinpot royals.<br><br>I don't think we've seen the last successful flip to democracy here. Libya may seem lost now, but it could so easily flip. Bahrain, well, Obama could just flip it now and it would go.
        guihombre
      • Maybe I can explain better

        @Insubordinate90,<br><br>Imagine you are a soldier, mercenaries are shooting the people, yet evil media lumps you and them together in order to create a false 'united front' to support evil dictator.<br><br>They can't pretend there is any inch of difference between army and mercenary because that is a sign of disagreement and hence weakness.<br><br>You (regular army) will still face any backlash when dictator is gone.<br><br>Which is why IMHO, Egyptian protester were absolutely right to call on the army to support the protesters.<br><br>They're both Libyans, they should call on their fellow Libyan soldiers to end this dictatorship by Botox Gadaffi.
        guihombre
  • Freedom

    This is truly despicable. Dictators like Gadaffi deserve to die a cruel and gruesome death. What makes him think he deserves total control over millions of people? He only got into power by bullying and frightening the old government with his brutish thugs and AK-47s, lets see how he likes it when its done onto him, by the people. FREE LIBYA.
    Insubordinate90
  • RE: Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

    The Butcher is revealed, he doesn't change.
    BananaBoatWireless
  • Obama will apologize to Libya

    Typical of a ball less liberal President.
    Ron Burgundy
  • RE: Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

    Hmmm? And Barry wants a "Kill Switch" too!???<br>What does THAT tell you?
    m4surveys@...
    • RE: Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

      @m4surveys@... get a ham radio. Hitler Obama can't kill that.
      Ron Burgundy
  • RE: Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

    Hi,

    bit .ly : Offers URL redirection service with real-time link tracking.... is still working, but for how long?

    This goes down a lot of people are going to be affected.

    Regards,
    Dan
    3dvideo
  • When you look at Libya the rest of middle east

    China is having unrest too .... could 2011 is the years when freedom will hit the realm of dictator , will 2011 will be the start of the so much needed change in this world .

    will 2011 will be end of the hegemony from some empire on those population ..... freedom at last
    one thing is sure there a few president all around the planet that will have a large headache in the coming month. The socio-politic face of the planet may chance drastically ....

    If Israel dont chance its politic toward Palestine .... they may find them self in a tight spot soon.

    How many country at this moment are in a state of change Morocco, Algeria, Yemen . Iran , Libya, Bahrain ...
    Report that china had some protest .... could this be a start of revolution there too .....

    we are living in interesting time ......
    Quebec-french
    • RE: Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

      @Quebec-french 2011 may just be the first year when Peak Oil decline from the 2005 <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PU200611_Fig1.png">plateau</a> is first felt.. That's a more likely explanation (gradual increase of food and fuel prices bites only the poor masses in high-Gini coefficient countries). Although seeing encouraging examples of successful revolutions from your neighbouring countries surely helps, as we saw in 1989: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EasternBloc_PostDissolution2008.svg"><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EasternBloc_PostDissolution2008.svg" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EasternBloc_PostDissolution2008.svg</a></a>.
      dontfear
    • RE: Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

      @Quebec-french Vive le Quebec Libre! Et donne beaucoup la merde mal au Jeancula Crouton et citoyen Charest.
      Feldwebel Wolfenstool
      • wow ton francais est vraiment bon f&Atilde;&copy;licitation

        @Feldwebel Wolfenstool
        thx for the vote of confidence well try to give as much merde as possible to citizen Charest .

        anyone that show love to Quebec can become a quebecer
        come down whenever you what
        Quebec-french
  • nice fashions for your spring

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    justkoko
  • RE: Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

    It's looking like Gaddafi will be out of power - and lucky not to be dead - within a week, possibly less. Nothing is ever certain with revolutions, and even less so when nearly all outside communication has been cut. But parts of the Libyan army, which is divided up on tribal grounds, have started switching to supporting the protesters.

    Benghazi has fallen to the protesters, Libya's representative to the Arab League has resigned in protest at the firing on civilians, and one of the largest tribes seems to be withdrawing support for Gaddafi.

    Once a government has started wholesale massacres of its civilians, and military units start switching their loyalties to the people, it's very difficult for the ruling autocrat to stay in power. China managed it in 1989, after the brutal massacres in Tienanmen Square, but in the cases of Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya, the ruling party's grip on power was always more fragile, and they've failed to "deliver the goods" of progress.

    So, hopefully next week it will be "good riddance to Gaddafi".
    Note - to the morons using this message board as a way to call any American President "Hitler", please GROW THE F*** UP. Hitler slaughtered millions of people and launched a world war. No American President is even remotely comparable; you're exposing yourself as hateful little trolls.
    kirkaiya@...
  • RE: Libya turns off the Internet and the Massacres begin

    There are other viable non .LY URL redirection services such as miniurl.com
    trdxchnge
  • I'm wondering when all the $15/hr. people..

    ...in the USA will get enraged from the bailing out the crooked Wall Street bankers.
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
  • Not for long...

    ...information has a way of getting out.
    james347
  • authoritative

    @Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols - A nitpick, I know; but in your last paragraph, "an authoritative regime" should read, "an authoritarian regime." Definitely not the same thing.
    TimePassing