Yesterday afternoon I noticed that the embedded YouTube videos on my health and fitness website were offline, so I decided to see if there was any news on the YouTube website, and the whole site was down. I thought that this was odd, with YouTube being such a massive website, there should be back up servers all over the place. Anyway, I then saw a news article on the way home from work, and was shocked to read that YouTube was taken offline by government intervention.
Users were unable to log on to the video-sharing website yesterday after attempts by Pakistan to block its citizens gaining access triggered the fault. The Pakistan government ordered the country’s 70 internet service providers to ban access to YouTube because of anti-Islamic movies appearing on the site. A mistake by an engineer at Pakistan Telecom and Asian internet service provider PCCW meant access was also denied to the rest of the world. Reports suggest that in an attempt to block access from Pakistan, an engineer changed the network routing so that all attempts to reach the site were directed to another internet address.
The redirection spread outside Pakistan, and the site became unavailable to tens of millions of users around the world for about an hour on Sunday. Pakistan’s YouTube ban is believed to have been ordered because the site’s content includes Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. There were also reports that the ban followed the appearance of a trailer for a film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, which portrays Islam in a negative light.
Wahaj-us-Siraj of the Association of Pakistan Internet Service Providers, said internet users in Pakistan had been upset by the move. “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.”
I am really surprised that this could happen on the internet today. I was under the impression that the large websites, especially those managed by Google, would be secure from sabotage, even if the sabotage was unintended. I cannot help thinking that as a result of this, people may now attempt to recreate what the Pakistani Government did, to deliberately sabotage other people’s businesses. Hopefully there is plenty of protection in place to prevent this from happening.