According to numerous reports around the web tonight, Internet access in Libya has been shut down. [Update (by Charlie White):Libyan Internet service is now restored.]
Facebook, Twitter and other sites, including Al Jazeera’s website, have been reported as blocked for several hours already; however, in a brief bulletin in The Los Angeles Times, we read that the entire Internet has been cut off in a situation similar to that seen in Egyptjust weeks ago.
UPDATE: This statement seems to be confirmed by a complete drop-off in Google search traffic originating in Libya. Thanks to Google search exec Matt Cutts for pointing out this data:
In what is being called a “day of rage,” tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to prompt the ouster of Muammar al-Gaddafi, who has been the de facto leader of Libya since a military coup d’état in 1969 and whose rule has been marked by assassination attempts and protests since at least 1993. The “day of rage” marks the anniversary of 2006 protests that also turned bloody and, for 30 Libyans and foreign citizens, fatal.
As a side note, Bit.ly CEO John Borthwick has stated that websites with the .ly top-level domain are not likely to experience interrupted service during this time.
“For .ly domains to be unresolvable,” he writes, “the five .ly root servers that are authoritative all have to be offline, or responding with empty responses. Of the five root nameservers for the .ly TLD, two are based in Oregon, one is in the Netherlands and two are in Libya.”
However, for most of us monitoring the developing situation in this troubled country, a handful of web startups’ experiencing downtime is hardly a matter of concern when placed in stark contrast with the political realities and violent protests occurring on the ground in Libya. According to one report, at least 41 have died already in the anti-government protests. According to other reports, at least 70 have been hospitalized, mostly for gunshot wounds.
We will continue to follow this story throughout the coming days.