This 'Obscene' Image Led Libya To Shut Down an American WebsiteS

Libya is not pleased with Violet Blue's bare arms. The North African autocracy shut down the American writer's website partly because it featured an "offensive" picture of her drinking beer in a sleeveless shirt.

As Gizmodo mentioned this morning, Libya canceled Blue's vb.ly web address over legal and moral concerns.

According to a new blog post from Blue, the objections went beyond the URLs vb.ly shortened, which included, by design, links to porn. Libya Telecom and Technology, which administers .LY domain, also cited Blue for trafficking in "offensive imagery" with the home page picture of herself featured abvove. A Libya Telecom representative wrote to Blue,

The issue of offensive imagery is quite subjective, as what I may deem as offensive you might not, but I think you'll agree that a picture of a scandidly clad lady with some bottle in her hand isn't exactly what most would consider decent or family friendly at the least... Our Country's Law and Morality do not allow any kind of pornography or its promotion.

Libya Telecom also said vb.ly's content had to conform to "Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law," Metcalfe said in a different blog post.

Libya actively encourages foreigners to register domains in the country, selling them in U.S. dollars on an English language website, and indeed the Libya Telecom representative told Blue "we pride ourselves on being the online destination for many well known websites internationally." Indeed, one of the most popular URL shorteners on Twitter, bit.ly, uses a Libyan domain, as do a significant number of other popular websites and web applications created over the past few years.

In retrospect, though, it seems a little naive that so many web entrepreneurs expected free expression to be routed through a third-world autocracy, and through a company overseen by a dictator's eldest son. That goes for any website, to say nothing of a porn URL shortener, or a porn URL shortener brazenly advertised using a woman's obscenely bare arms.