Monday, February 25, 2008

Pakistan takes out YouTube, gets taken out in return

As ZDNet reports, yesterday afternoon, in response to a government order to filter YouTube (AS 36561), Pakistan Telecom (AS 17557, announced a more-specific route (/24; YouTube announces a /23) for YouTube's IP space, causing YouTube's Internet traffic to go to Pakistan Telecom. YouTube then re-announced its own IP space in yet more-specific blocks (/25), which restored service to those willing to accept routing announcements for blocks that small. Then Pakistan Telecom's upstream provider, PCCW (AS 3491), which had made the mistake of accepting the Pakistan Telecom /24 announcement for YouTube in the first place, shut off Pakistan Telecom completely, restoring YouTube service to the world minus Pakistan Telecom. They got what they wanted, but not quite in the manner they intended.

Don't mess with the Internet.

Martin Brown gives more detail at the Renesys Blog, including a comment on how this incident shows that it's still a bit too easy for a small ISP to disrupt service by hijacking IPs, intentionally or inadvertently. Danny McPherson makes the same point at the Arbor Networks blog, and also gives a good explanation of how the Pakistan Internet provider screwed up what they were trying to do.

Somebody still needs to update the Wikipedia page on how Pakistan censors the Internet to cover this incident.

UPDATE: BoingBoing reports that the video which prompted this censorship order was an excerpt from Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders' film "Forbidden" criticizing Islam, which was uploaded to YouTube back on January 28. I've added "religion" and "Islam" as labels on this post, accordingly. The two specific videos mentioned by Reporters without Borders as prompting the ban have been removed from YouTube, one due to "terms of use violation" and one "removed by user." The first of these two videos was supposedly the Geert Wilders one; the second was of voters describing election fraud during the February 18 Parliamentary elections in Pakistan. This blog suggests that the latter video was the real source of the attempted censorship gone awry, though the Pakistan media says it was the former. So perhaps the former was the pretext, and the latter was the political motivator.

A "trailer" for Wilders' film is on YouTube here. Wilders speaks about his film on YouTube here and here. Ayaan Hirsi Ali defends Wilders on Laura Ingraham's show on Fox News here. (Contrary to the blog post I've linked to, Hirsi Ali was not in the Theo Van Gogh film "Submission Part One," which can itself be found here, rather, she wrote it. Van Gogh was murdered as a result of it. The beginning and end is in Arabic with Dutch subtitles, but most of it is in English with Dutch subtitles.)

UPDATE (February 26, 2008): This just in, from Reuters--Pakistan "might have been" the cause of the YouTube outage. Way to be on the ball with breaking news, Reuters!

The Onion weighs in on the controversy!

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