Pakistan blunder shuts down YouTube

Over-zealous censors in Pakistan are being blamed for YouTube being inaccessible for two hours yesterday.

The Pakistan government, anxious to protect the fragile sensitivities of the Muslim populace, issued an order to the country’s ISPs to block access to the video sharing site because it contained content deemed offensive to Islam and its inventor Mohammed. Pakistan Telecom promptly hijacked YouTube’s webserver address, and as a result the site was inadvertently blocked by ISPs the world over.

A technical explanation is available here:

It is exactly like the “game of telephone” that kids play. For example, Pakistan Telecom says “I am responsible for (some IP address)” and then they tell PCCW. PCCW tells Verizon Business and NTT and others. NTT tells us and so when my customers ask “Where is Youtube, we’re just answering based on what we’ve heard…” But all we know is that we heard it from NTT who heard it from PCCW who heard it from Pakistan Telecom. If Pakistan Telecom was lying (or made a mistake), we’d have no way to verify it.

As yet there has been no apology from the Pakistan government. We expect ambassadors to be summoned and carpetted, demonstrations outside their embassies, and, if no words of remorse are expressed, effigies to be burnt and bounties put on the heads of the government agents responsible for this outrageous offence against freedom of expression.

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