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Pakistan Takes YouTube Offline

Effort to block access locally leads to a worldwide outage of popular video site

The Pakistani government yesterday asked its ISPs to block access to the YouTube site within the country's borders, citing objectionable material that was displayed there. Unfortunately, the effort to block the site went awry, effectively blocking YouTube access worldwide for about two hours.

According to reports, the country ordered its primary ISPs, Pakistan Telecom and PCCW, to block the video-sharing Website because of content deemed offensive to Islam. Some reports say the concern was over the Dutch cartoon that caused an uproar last year; others say the objection was to a trailer for a new film that paints Islam in a negative light.

Although the course of events has not been clearly established, some experts believe Pakistan Telecom "hijacked" the Web server address of the popular video site. The address was passed on to the country's ISPs so that anyone in Pakistan attempting to go to YouTube was instead re-directed to a different address.

But the details of the "hijack," including some key routing protocols, were leaked out into the wider internet from PCCW, the reports said. As a result, YouTube was mistakenly blocked by ISPs around the world.

The block on the servers was lifted once PCCW had been told of the issue by engineers at YouTube, about two hours after the outage, reports said. Officials at YouTube said they do not believe the outage was caused maliciously, but was a mistake by engineers who were trying to limit access to the site's content within Pakistan's borders.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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