back to article Pakistan blocks YouTube

Pakistan became the latest nation to block access to YouTube, although much of the country has now had access restored. The plug was pulled late last week by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, but mistakes over the weekend meant the site was blocked worldwide for more than an hour on Sunday, the BBC reports. Reports …


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  1. Dave Edmondston

    Bit worrying...

    ...that Pakistan (or anyone) can block worldwide access to specific site for that period of time.

  2. Steve

    Objectionable non-Islamic videos.

    "The ratio of non-Islamic objectionable videos has increased on it."

    Leaving aside the fact that a "ratio" is "of X campared to Y", does this mean that objectionable videos are OK as long as they are Islamic?

    Which also begs the question; what can you get away with just by shouting "Allah al akbar" at the end of you're political speech/dancing kitten/amatuer porn videos.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Truth hurt does it?

    Always be wary of those who cannot take criticism. Strangely this is a list that includes all major religions.

  4. Carl


    Looks like after hijacking the Youtube IP address range, they forgot to filter that range out of their BGP route announcements...

  5. Rich Silver badge


    Anyone know how blocking YT in Pakistan managed to cascade around the world? DNS propagation?

  6. Ron Eve
    Black Helicopters

    Hang on...

    If an incompetent Pakistani technician can block world access to one the planets biggest commercial websites for 'a couple of hours', how feasible is it for an expert team to block the entire internet from the all of us, even if only for a limited time? (Call it "a window of opportunity"...).

    Flying jacket with the tinfoil hat, thanks, and straight to my nuclear bunker please driver...

  7. Chris C

    Sounds fishy

    This sounds just a bit too fishy to me. I can understand Pakistan blocking YouTube (not that I agree with it). But then to declare that Pakistan's ISPs blocking YouTube somehow resulted in all ISPs worldwide to block it as well? I smell BS. Which is more likely -- that ISPs worldwide all decided to block access to YouTube, or simply that YouTube's host decided to block incoming requests?

  8. Chris
    Dead Vulture

    Tis Quite sad!

    How much abuse does the english culture take out of religion/politics/royalty i mean come off it. If we went around banning every site that insulted 'the nation' then you might as well get rid of freedom of speech and the internet!! I know thats what some contries want to do but its a very sad state!

    I mean how much do we take the piss out of the govement and the queen and especialy Bush!

    Being able to accept thats how some poeople feel is much better than trying to make the problem go away!

  9. James Smith
    Paris Hilton

    Urm ...

    Something else must have happened to cause the Worldwide outage. Maybe Pakistan asked YouTube to implement some kind of blocking their end but accidentally setup a wildcard *.*.*.* :p

    Pakistan's ISPs blocking access would have had no affect on routing of, say, UK Internet users to America.

    I did wonder though why YouTube wasn't working, when on Sunday I was trying to find a clip of the tackle on Arsenal's striker Eduardo.

  10. James

    BGP Route Propagation is how it happenned

    Pakistan ISPs were attempting to propagate a different route for the YouTube address space, pointing the IPs to their server that serves up a "You're not allowed to see this" error page.

    Unfortunately, they didn't filter this route at their border and this resulted in the rest of the world receiving this incorrect route, which presumably brought their server to its knees.

    Youtube were not involved in the blocking, as James Smith suggests.

  11. Matt

    Free speach

    Not sure I agree with AC. There's a difference between criticism and abuse. A lot of Muslims would probably accept criticism but not abuse. Telling the difference and how this can be "managed" is of course a tricky subject.

    Worth keeping in mind that CocaCola were quick to stop advertising which might have associated them with prostitution at the last footie World Cup. I'm sure they do the same on You Tube.

    Just in case you were wondering I'm not a Muslim :-)

  12. Frank Bitterlich

    [To Chris C] Nothing fishy here...

    ... they just sent out erroneous routing tables (claiming, in non-tech speak, "send all traffic for here."). Any country could do that, but doing that on a bigger scale would be detected quite quickly, and cause them to be given the boot until they sort out their routing.

    BTW, BBC reports the spokesman for Pakistan's ISPs as saying "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."

    No comment about the "valid reason" BS, but claiming that people would stop using the 'net because of censorship proves a fatal misunderstanding about how a society works. Not that the Pakistan "government" wouldn't like that prospect, but just ask the Chinese how that idea worked out.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Possible explanation found here

    "There will definitely be some fall out from this. It would seem that all it takes to hijack a website globally is for a telecoms firm to instruct its ISPs that they now run a domain, and for one of those ISPs to announce that globally. So that other ISPs follow suit in a piggyback chain of confusion."

  14. Alex Brett

    Re: Urm ...

    In Pakistan they put out a more specific (i.e. for a smaller set of IP addresses) route announcement for the Youtube IPs - this (as others have said) was then accidentally propagated outside of Pakistan.

    BGP works on the principal of longest prefix match, so this more specific announcement would have matched before Google's own less specific one, and all traffic would have gone to it, so a problem in Pakistan can cause worldwide routing issues, due to the fundamentally trusting nature of BGP...

  15. Pete Silver badge

    first of many?

    All this tells us is how completely lacking the internet is when it comes to resilience.Now that people know what/how to drop a major site, I can see that it will only be a matter of time before M$, Google, the USA or pretty much any other major web location drops off the face of the planet.

    Whether these losses will be due to incompetence or hackers (not even government sponsored, I can see this becoming the domain of script-kiddies) doesn't make much difference. The next logical step will be for the baddies to not just drop these sites, but to put up their own versions, with their own agendas/advertising/viruses.

    Maybe the internet's age of security innocence is coming to an end?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quite simple really

    PCCW were at fault here for not filtering their customers BGP route announcements. Heck even anyone looking at any online looking glass could see that it wasn't YouTube that was announcing the /22 IP Prefix that they use (Google has nothing to do with their routing at the moment, take a look in ARIN and the routing table and you'll see they are totally seperate). Because PCCW didn't filter it they announced it to all their Peer's and any upstreams which resulted in the issue.

    Any decent provider filters their customers BGP announcements for this exact reason - there are methods to stop this sort of thing from happening already in place - but if the provider/upstream doesn't use them then of course they are not going to work. Nothing aside from user/provider incompetence was the cause for this issue IMHO.

  17. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    Not the first time

    Such "disappearing internet" problems have happened before. IIRC, many years ago, an ISP somewhere accidentally announced a route for the whole of the internet - and as the route propagated, bits of the internet went off-line. It took about another day for everything to get back to normal.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    So anybody else think this will help religious tollerance - not :\

    Religion should be inforced in your own mind and not dictated as pakistan did in tere actions.

    Seriously if there bitter about a couple of vids on youtube and go about things like this - even if they did get it right and only block there country from seeing the WHOLE site, they would still be setting a standard of non tollerance and non respect for others. Let alone pidderling upon free speach.

    Well with that kind of approach I realy wont be supprised if we dont see this motivating some free spirit types to create a website say like just to keep ALL the DEEMED offencive stuff and end up spamming it in the face of anybody who even mentions the word god in any form.

    Personaly I cant prove scientificly he exists, nor can I prove scientificaly that he dont exist. Let alone define what a god is (is god nature or the laws of physics). but I know I believe in myself as I know I do exist and I respect others as I know they also exist. So to disrespect others based upon something thats non proven is just silly.

    Now buddism - that I can respect as its all provable.

    until then I look at all religious books as old scripts of Dallas written a few hundred years ago and rewritten every decade, I mean thats how they do it, anybody able to prove otherwise beyond a shadow of a doubt :).

    But with all this - common sence people have to form a religion of non religion just to use all the panda laws on religion to stop the religious nuts from pidderling in our porridge. Its crazy, there crazy - i just wished they'd accept I'm not and stop trying to enforce there beliefs upon me without solid facts i could prove in a court of law.

    Thats it in a nutshell, can anybody prove in a court of law beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists. honestly NO, ironic given you have the option to swear upon the bible to tell the truth; A book that legaly I'd not be able to prove tells the truth, the whole thruth and nothing but the truth.

    Seriously I wish all you religious types the best in what ever direction you take, be it Jedi, worshiping womens feet or some other character not far removed from a manga video. Its your choice, just not mine, accept that and we will all get along just fine. Otherwise actions like blocking youtube becase some berocrat is pandaring to peer preasure is only going to anger the geeks of mars. Think about it - you show me your buttons and I'll just push them until they break or my finger gets numb.

    Set to joke alert as I find it hard to take humans taking such action as nothing else as I assume there not stupid, but i'm human so not perfect. Given perfection would mean nobody talks as there would be no reason in a perfect World. Though a perfect World wouldn't have youtube it also wouldn;t have religion.

    PS if anything I said has offended anybody then please accept that it wasn;t me and only your right and left sides of your brain in clear and current conflict and its only in your head now.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Abuse ideas

    Sorry, but we have the right to abuse ideas. (ideas are not people) dressing your idea up as a religion does not some how give it protection from the ridicule that idea deserves.

    "Long live the our Flying Spaghetti Monster Overlords - Death to the infidels!!!"

  20. brimful

    In that case

    Why doesn't the transposrt authority ban all flights in and out of Pakistan other than those from Islamic states? Surely visiting the land where the "ratio of non-Islamic objectionable video is stored" is far worse that visiting the url? Actually I shouldn't say this as the dumb, dumber, dumbest government of Pakistan probably thinks as this being a good idea. Why do I get the feeling it's more to do with population control?

    Flame cos some of the pages in the Pakistani elite rule book should be torched.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You know what is next

    Christians will demand blocking of google earth until it depicts a flat earth model.

    Personaly I'm offended at there reaction to them being offended. I accept there offended and dont have the ability to stop themselfs from clicking on content that they might find offencive, heck even register a acocunt and go yeah I'm over 18 i can handle offencive content.

    Censorship should be the realm of the individual, once there deemed responsible. Basicly protect the innocent but to protect and preserve ignorance is not reason for any form of censorship.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    There is a leasson to be learnt here, same one from religious history

    Also learn from religious history. The actions of the Pakistan goverment is akin to what the romans did with a cross and a few rusty nails and see how that panned out in the end.

    I vote youtube internet martyr awards for Febuary 2008 :).

    Remeber - this joke is all in - now block that }->

  23. Luther Blissett

    Truth hurt does it?

    Always be wary of those who cannot take criticism. Strangely this is a list that includes all Anonymous Cowards.

  24. Morely Dotes

    Pakistan? Pakistan...

    Oh, yes, that little upstart province of India, off to the Northwest, which seems to originate nothing except spam, phishing, system cracking, and DDoS attacks.

    Frankly, I've had all .pk IP space that I could find null-routed for donkey's years. They're worse than useless; I had a governmnet official tell me to essentially "piss off" when I sent a spam report some time back. That's when I decided the world would be better off without .pk

    Looks like I simply anticipated a growing trend.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So let me get this straight, the nation that is responsible for 99% of pro Al Qaeda propaganda such as US soldiers and civilians being shot and sometimes killed is censoring YouTube because THEY find content on it objectionable?

    BRILLIANT! Who'd have thought insulting Mohammed would actually massively aid the battle for hearts and minds against extremist Islamic propaganda by preventing the country most responsible for supporting such propaganda posting it in the first place.

    It's almost as self-destructive as the riots in many Islamic countries when the Mohammed cartoons row originally came about where the damage that was done was only to their own cities, towns and population.

    Perhaps we've found the Achilles heal of Islamic extremism - just keep making fun of Mohammed until all the extremists self-destruct.

  26. Stuart Udall

    storm, teacup

    Do we now await a whole range of "accidental" outages, in the name of some random's ideological beliefs? How can this happen?

    Neil Fenemor @ NANOG sez:

    "While they are deliberately blocking Youtube nationally, I suspect the wider issue has no malice, and is a case of poorly constructed/implemented outbound policies on [PT's] part, and poorly constructed/implemented inbound polices on [PCCW's] part."

    John van Oppen @ NANOG sez:

    "... PCCW allows unfiltered route-announcement capability to a large number of their customers..."

    Simon Lockhart @ NANOG sez:

    "So, from the tit-bits I've picked up from IRC and first-hand knowledge, it would appear that 17557 leaked an announcement of to 3491 (PCCW/BTN). After several calls to PCCW NOC, including from Youtube themselves, PCCW claimed to be shutting down the links to 17557. Initially I saw the announcement change from "3491 17557" to "3491 17557 17557", so I speculate that they shut down the primary link (or filtered the announcement on that link), and the prefix was still coming in over a secondary link (hence the prepend). After more prodding, that route vanished too.

    Various mitigations were talked about and tried, including Youtube announcing the /24 as 2*/25, but these announcements did not seem to make it out to the world at large.

    Currently Youtube are announcing the /24 themselves - I assume this will drop at some time once it's safe.

    It was noticed that all the DNS servers were in the affected /24. Youtube have subsequently added a DNS server in another prefix."

    Steve Bellovin @ NANOG sez:

    "...a number of us have been warning that this could happen. More precisely, we've been warning that this could happen *again*; we all know about many older incidents, from the barely noticed to the very noisy. (AS 7007, anyone?) Something like S-BGP will stop this cold.

    Yes, I know there are serious deployment and operational issues. The question is this: when is the pain from routing incidents great enough that we're forced to act? It would have been nice to have done something before this, since now all the world's script kiddies have seen what can be done."

    Patrick Gilmore @ NANOG sez:

    "How many of those [incidents] would be stopped with transit providers filtering their downstreams? Which doesn't require rolling out a new technology like SBGP. And, I would argue, if we cannot even get transit providers to filter their downstreams, there is no way in hell we can get transit providers to filter on some RR or doing authentication on individual prefixes."

    Matsuzaki Yoshinobu @ NANOG sez:

    "I am in the APRICOT meeting in Taipei now, and met a guy from PCCW/AS3491. I have showed him this thread, and have suggested

    1) validating prefixes from downstreams before accept, and

    2) setting an inbound prefix-filter to their downstreams."

    Michael Dillon @ NANOG sez:

    "The real solution to the YouTube issue is for people to pressure other network operators to raise their game and pay attention to how they manage their BGP trust relationships and filter announcements. In addition, more people need to get involved in information sharing arrangements like Routing Registries, MyASN, alert services and so on. "

    Stu sez:

    So it seems that it's unlikely that a site can be maliciously hijacked in this way. It's simple enough to filter the rogue route announcements, however in this case the world's ISPs did not have to do this to restore YouTube, they simply waiting for PT's upstream to filter the announcements for them. If in the future some group of cyber-warriors wanted to hijack, say the Reg, they would need the co-operation of the Reg's ISP, plus the other upstream providers involved. They would also then need the world's ISPs to ignore this activity. All very unlikely. Because the internet is comprised of thousands of separate networks, managed by separate companies and individuals, it is not possible to maintain control of this type of hijack. And therefore, if attempted, it would amount to nothing more than a stunt.

    This incident has highlighted the importance of "transit provider downstream announcement filtering", and has revealed that filtering is not well-implemented at some transit providers. However, no amount of technology will prevent a mistake at a trusted provider from advertising false routes. Pressure applied by PCCW's peers (other transit providers) was sufficient to prompt a fix in this case. If a rogue transit provider consistently advertises false routes, that provider will be filtered by its peers. If this turns into a nasty intractable problem, SBGP will apparently ride to the rescue.

  27. mr. uglyhands

    I think I'm to blame

    I think that it might have been my video Tommy Bin Laden that caused the ruckus. I completed it this Saturday and posted it right away. It's supposed to be a parody of Osama, but in the tags I also put Pakistan as one of the lookups. The timing of my post and their ban seems awfully coincidental. This is the video (still up as of now)

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Real reason?

    The Dutch press are blaming this on a YouTube posted trailer for an upcoming anti-Koran film by right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

    Watch out for this story. It's rumoured that Wilders will finish his film with some kind of 'outrageous' stunt with a Koran. Don't be surprised if this ends up making the Mohammed cartoon riots look like a picnic.

  29. Henry Cobb
    Paris Hilton

    More details on the block

    According to the senior official at the authority, the clip in question was about a soon-to-be released film made by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose outspoken comments against Islam have made him a target of protests in the Muslim world and elsewhere.

    It's "steal this book" season again.

    Dutch nut wants movie pirated in Islamic world to cause riots to drum up sales.

    Sty wants Rambo pirated in Burma to promote freedom.

    Bollywood wants their films pirated in Pakistan to promote sales to ex-pats in Europe.

    Microsoft wants their software pirated in emerging markets to head off Linux.

    Is there a single content creator left in the world who doesn't have a marketing plan based on getting themselves ripped off?


    Paris, because she started all of this with her direct-to-DVD offering.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Criticising Cowards

    Cheap shot, Ser Blisset.

    Anonymity isn't to avoid criticism. I could just not come back to the thread if i didn't want to see criticism. And no handle on here is actually verifiable, so even a name can be assumed to be "anonymous".

    I have curtains. Do you not?

  31. kaashif

    Tolerate all those who tolerate tolerance!

    The highly simplistic diatribe of some reg commentators, on Pakistan riddled with so many judgmental assumptions and the oh-so superior air of secular liberalism or civility is a little puke-worthy. There are so many presumptions about the nature of the Pakistani government, Pakistani society, and religious people in general I don't know where to begin, except to say that a real rational intellectual being does not use 'personality assassination' tactics against another ideology to undermine or smear it rather than actually dealing with the point at hand. Musharraf's Pakistan has not exactly been a bastion or defender of Islam, or Muslim people, he is an outright dictator who rigs elections; was installed and is supported by the Americans for the potential oil & oil transit revenues from the Baluchistan province. The Pakistan government commonly uses knee-jerk pseudo-religious tactics to divert attention away from real political problems - in this case videos about the rigged elections. There will be a clash of civilisations unless we in the west (not to mention people in the 3rd world) stop assuming that our values are objective, universal, rational, or the measure of civilisation. People treat freedom of speech like it's a universally accepted idea, sacred, and a divine obligation from god to always exercise to the furthest extent even if it serves no other purpose but causing trouble. Fundamentalist Muslims (contrary to media sensationalism) are open to criticism & discussion, but we (on the other side) can't start any discussion when one side assumes the parameters and barometer of truth are "core values" which are not up for question, e.g. libertarianism, free speech, & secularism, or the assumption that religion has to always measure up to these. For a start does free speech mean YouTube should allow Nazi propoganda? Does free speech mean allowing slander, libel, false accusation, or defamation? Propaganda for the Tamil Tigers (AKA LITE), Shiv Sena, Al-Qaida or ETA? Do we really have free speech anywhere? There are so many restrictions: privacy laws, OFCOM regulations, race relations laws, the press complaints commission, the official secrets act, and many more acts of law place responsible restrictions on freedom of speech. As one reg commentator said, there is a difference between rational criticism, and simply blatant abuse, or attack. Retorting "freedom of speech" is not a panacea for these problems, nor an argument in itself, nor a way to endear people to the idea of freedom speech, people need convincing not patronising postulation.

    For the record I am not Pakistani, although it shouldn't matter even if I was!

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