Pakistan turns off YouTube worldwide

Pakistan turns off YouTube worldwide

Summary: Last week, the government of Pakistan decided that YouTube was anti-Islamic and told the local ISPs to turn it off. This they did by announcing to their local Internet that they now owned the address block where YouTube lived.

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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Last week, the government of Pakistan decided that YouTube was anti-Islamic and told the local ISPs to turn it off. This they did by announcing to their local Internet that they now owned the address block where YouTube lived. Thus, any requests to YouTube's California servers found themselves routed to Pakistan - where YouTube wasn't.

So far, so bad. But then, the change found its way to Pakistan's upstream provider - PCCW in Hong Kong - which accepted the new announcement and propagated it outward to the rest of the world. As the change rippled around the planet, YouTube effectively vanished. Some hours later, the problem had been diagnosed and things started to get back to normal - but not before some people had reported no connectivity for more than a day.

As with most incidents with unexpected consequences, there appears to have been a chain of mishaps. It is most charitable to assume that Pakistan didn't mean to hijack YouTube globally and either didn't know what the effect would be or pressed the wrong buttons. Similarly, it's best to say that PCCW mistakenly passed the announcement on, when it would normally verify it first, rather than being set up to relay all such things automatically.

This does highlight the sensitivity of the Internet's routing mechanism - such route poisoning isn't unknown or particularly rare, but that such a high profile provider got hit so badly by mistake is a very bad sign for what might happen if malicious intent is injected.

Topic: Emerging Tech

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.

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  • Pakistan turns off YouTube worldwide

    The Pakistani government will have to remedy this some way! they have the power to ban Youtube is their own country, but disrupting their services worldwide is a crime, Youtube could try to seek compensation via the courts.

    I do wonder why they couldn't just ask (or demand) that Youtube remove whatever content they found offensive, its not wise to start fights you can't win; youtube has hundreds of clones, these videos will keep appearing somewhere, especially if they keep generating interest with such actions.
    harpless