Libya loses its links

Libya’s internet access seems to be getting back to normal after one of the strangest weeks in the history of the web: the whole country “disappeared” from view this month.

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By  Peter Branton Published  April 18, 2004

Libya’s internet access seems to be getting back to normal after one of the strangest weeks in the history of the web: the whole country “disappeared” from view this month. Following a dispute about the ownership of the country-code top level domain .ly, the nameserver running the domains stopped answering requests for .ly on April 7, followed by the secondary nameserver on April 9, meaning that none of the estimated 12,500 Libyan domains could be accessed. In effect, the entire country had gone offline. The problem seems to be a dispute between two different organisations as to who governs the .ly domain: while Lydomains.com has been running the .ly domain for several years from a base in the UK, another organisation, nic.ly, is claiming ownership. Regulatory body Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) initially was blamed for the outage, but it has since issued a statement saying it had nothing to do with it and has instead requested the operator of the second nameserver to restore service until such time as the dispute can be resolved. This was done on 13 April, “on an interim basis” according to ICANN. “ICANN’s global mission is to coordinate the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s domain name system. Consistent with this mission, ICANN requested the operator of the second nameserver to restore service until such time as the .ly local Internet community decides on an appropriate solution to replace the current caretaker arrangements,” the organisation said in a statement. While it is highly unusual, to say the least, for an entire country to lose internet access, it is not unique. In January this year, Bahrain was reported to have lost internet access for one day when a cable broke in the Mediterranean.

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