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YouTube was inaccessible for more than an hour around the world today when the Pakistani government blocked the site within the country due to it hosting anti-Islamic content. According to multiple accounts, the problem seems to have originated by an apparent mistake by Pakistan Telecom, which […]

YouTube was inaccessible for more than an hour around the world today when the Pakistani government blocked the site within the country due to it hosting anti-Islamic content. According to multiple accounts, the problem seems to have originated by an apparent mistake by Pakistan Telecom, which posted a redirect for YouTube’s IP address that Hong Kong Internet Service provider PCCW distributed to other ISPs around the world. That meant people who tried to visit the site or its embedded videos were met with error messages.

yt2.gifWhile experts say the worldwide downtime was probably an accident, it shows how hopeless and risky it is for hidebound governments to try to block access to the Internet.

Pingdom reports YouTube was down for a total of 1 hour and 34 minutes on Sunday. The downtime affected users in countries including Germany, China, the United States, Russia, the UK, and Australia (click on thumbnail for image from Thaslayer).

A post to a network operators discussion group explains what happened and lists the IP addresses that were substituted.

So, it seems that youtube’s ip block has been hijacked by a more specific prefix being advertised. This is a case of IP hijacking, not case of DNS poisoning, youtube engineers doing something stupid, etc.

According to the BBC, “The block on the servers was lifted once PCCW had been told of the issue by engineers at YouTube.”

The offensive videos reportedly included those Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, and/or a trailer for a film that’s not complimentary to Islam.

Among many countries who’ve been upset about YouTube hosting videos they deem inappropriate, the Thai, Turkish, and Brazilian governments have all blocked YouTube. And in many cases, Google has complied with requests to remove or filter content, even if a video does not break the site’s terms of service. Such appeasements might be the cost of doing international business, but they are a slippery slope.

Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf visited YouTube’s recording booth at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month, according to TechCrunch. He “came by so many times that people stopped noticing,” was how TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington described it. And now, even if by accident, Musharraf was responsible for taking the whole site down? That’s sad.

  1. Thanks for posting. I did not realize this is why youtube was down. Amazing.

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  2. [...] you notice that YouTube was down for over an hour yesterday? Turns out it was an IP hijack originating from Pakistan Telecom. They [...]

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  3. Very interesting. It does seem odd though that Pakistan broadcasting incorrect data affected me in the UK though.

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  4. Youtube may be down, but check out Friction.tv, where the debate surrounding Pakistan’s future has kicked off, courtesy of Mohammed Ziaddin, London corr of Dawn newspaper… and a variety of other interested individuals.
    http://www.friction.tv/ftv_debate.php?debate_id=1817

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  5. [...] Pakistan, Basketball, Dailymotion The Pakistan YouTube Outage Explained; As we reported over the weekend, Pakistan Telecom broadcasted a false claim that it was correct route for address [...]

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  6. [...] clip that provoked action from the Pakistan Telecom Authority resulted in Youtube being taken down globally for about an hour and a half over the weekend. It was down for myself in Dublin at that time, and I [...]

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  7. [...] Lifts YouTube Ban After sparking a YouTube outage over the weekend, Pakistan has lifted its ban and restored service to the video-sharing [...]

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  8. [...] YouTube is blocked in these countries and Pakistan, a fact that became overwhelmingly apparent this past weekend, when an attempt to block YouTube in P-Stan took out the global site. [...]

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  9. [...] And let’s not forget when a simple routing change by Pakistan Telecom to block YouTube took down the video service for hours, leading to a sharp increase in productivity around the [...]

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  10. [...] what’s nearby with other routers. If just one participant in this dance chooses to lie — as one Pakistani ISP did about YouTube’s address in an attempt to filter Youtube in that country – the entire system can [...]

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