Pakistan 'sparks YouTube outage'
Pakistan's attempts to block access to YouTube has been blamed for an almost global blackout of the video website for more than an hour on Sunday.
BBC - February 25, 2008
BBC News has learned that the outage was almost certainly connected to Pakistan Telecom and Asian internet service provider PCCW.
A leading net professional said the global outage was "probably a mistake".
Pakistan ordered internet service providers to block the site because of content deemed offensive to Islam.
The BBC News website's technology editor, Darren Waters, says that to block Pakistan's citizens from accessing YouTube it is believed Pakistan Telecom "hijacked" the web server address of the popular video site.
Those details were then passed on to the country's internet service providers so that anyone in Pakistan attempting to go to YouTube was instead re-directed to a different address.
But the details of the "hijack" were leaked out into the wider internet from PCCW and as a result YouTube was mistakenly blocked by internet service providers around the world.
The block on the servers was lifted once PCCW had been told of the issue by engineers at YouTube.
A leading net professional told BBC News: "This was probably a simple mistake by an engineer at Pakistan Telecom. There's nothing to suggest this was malicious."
IP hijacking involves taking over a web site's unique address by corrupting the internet's routing tables, which direct the flow of data around the world.
No-one at YouTube or PCCW was immediately available for comment.
Cause of ban
Reports said Pakistan made the move because YouTube content included Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that have outraged many.
But one report said a trailer for a forthcoming film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, which portrays Islam in a negative light, was behind the ban.
"They [Pakistan's telecommunications authority] asked us to ban it immediately... and the order says the ban will continue until further notice," said Wahaj-us-Siraj, convener of the Association of Pakistan Internet Service Providers.
The government decision has caused uproar in Pakistan, according to Wahaj-us-Siraj:
"Users are quite upset. They're screaming at ISPs which can't do anything.
"The government has valid reason for that, but they have to find a better way of doing it. If we continue blocking popular websites, people will stop using the internet."
Other countries that have temporarily blocked access to YouTube include Turkey and Thailand.