A majority of the world’s Internet users lost access to YouTube yesterday for several hours and an ABC News story has revealed that the source of the outage was likely from Pakistan.
According to the ABC News story, the Pakistani government had attempted to block YouTube access domestically, but this had unexpectedly caused a global outage.
The story claims that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) told 70 Internet service providers to block access to YouTube, because of anti-Islamic movies on the website.
However, somehow this resulted in Pakistan being accidentally identified to Internet users as the world’s fastest route to YouTube.
A PTA official said the ban was aimed at blocking a trailer for a film by controversial Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who is notable for his anti-Islamic views.
Although the block was only intended to cover Pakistan, it caused about two-thirds of the global Internet population to lose access to YouTube.
Asia was most severely affected, and here the outage lasted for up to two hours.
YouTube has also confirmed the outage, saying it was caused by a network in Pakistan.
It is still not clear if the anti-Islamic clips have been removed from YouTube.
YouTube officials are still trying to figure out what happened and why, although according to one offical it seems Pakistan Telecom was “impersonating YouTube to much of the world.”
Pakistan Telecom and the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority have not yet commented on the outage.
The incident shows the flaws in filtering and blocking internet content and the repercussions it can have, even if it is well-intentioned. It also reveals the global connection people have through the internet where an incident in one country can affect people everywhere.