October 19, 2010

Internet Censorship Impacts URL-Shortening Services, VB.LY’s ‘Sex Friendly URL Shortener’ Shut Down By Libyan Registry

Vb.ly is a URL-shortening service that was launched by the sex writer ‘Violet Blue’ and creator of vb.ly, Ben Metcalfe. The thing that set vb.ly apart from other popular URL-shortening services (for example Bitly, still live at Bit.ly) was that vb.ly did not run their links through filters which would ‘filter out’ pornographic or other Not Safe For Work (NSFW) content.

The creators boasted that Vb.ly was, "the Internet's first and only sex-positive URL shortener."

In regards to censorship or otherwise removing un-safe links, ‘Violet Blue’ had stated that, "I think we'd remove links if we were asked to by a court or if we were made aware of anything involving illegal activity."

However, vb.ly was recently shut down by NIC.LY, the official registry service that operates Libya’s ccTLD (.ly).

NIC.LY released a statement subsequent to shutting down vb.ly regarding its decision to block the URL-shortening service; that statement can be found here.

In NIC.LY’s statement, they noted that “vb.ly had a policy different from other URL shorteners, not using filters and encouraging the use of this service for creating links to adult sites and other “NSFW” links, thus placing vb.ly by definition in the porn/adult site category.”

NIC.LY goes on to state that it made repeated warnings to vb.ly to be more Internet user friendly (probably in reference to the practices employed by Bitly) and that, “after 3 weeks of failed attempts to contact the owners of vb.ly, NIC.ly had no alternative but to apply its regulations that clearly state that it reserves the right o suspend or remove a .ly domain name in violation of rules and regulations.”

Also noteworthy, NIC.LY made sure that there could be no future owners of the vb.ly domain name by preventing any subsequent re-registrations of the vb.ly domain name

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