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Pakistan YouTube Block Breaks the World 343

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the oops-they-did-it-again dept.
Allen54 noted a followup to yesterday's story about Pakistan's decision to block YouTube. He notes that "The telecom company that carries most of Pakistan's traffic, PCCW, has found it necessary to shut Pakistan off from the Internet while they filter out the malicious routes that a Pakistani ISP, PieNet, announced earlier today. Evidently PieNet took this step to enforce a decree from the Pakistani government that ISP's must block access to YouTube because it was a source of blasphemous content. YouTube has announced more granular routes so that at least in the US they supercede the routes announced by PieNet. The rest of the world is still struggling."
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Pakistan YouTube Block Breaks the World

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  • by suso (153703) * on Monday February 25, 2008 @09:50AM (#22544842) Homepage Journal
    So the article isn't clear on it. Does this ISP have an AS number that allows them to upload global routes? I would say that they should lose it. I can't think of another way that a single ISP could take out the whole internet's access to something. Pretty crazy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      PCCW apparently wasn't filtering prefixes announced by PieNet. Very stupid.
      • by suso (153703) * on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:05AM (#22544980) Homepage Journal
        Yeah that is very stupid. Why would you allow one of your customers to modify global routes when they don't have an AS number themselves?

        I imagine that this event will introduce a lot of people to how high level internet routing works. Yes, its that vulnerable folks. Scary, but fortunately these events don't happen often. I think back in late 90s was the time when someone in Pennsylvania introduced a global route for everything to go to 0.0.0.0, which brought everything down for a day.
        • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:10AM (#22545034)
          Not to mention that they should keep ALL manner of global routing out of countries that censor the internet.. it's just a no-brainer. Probably should move a lot out of America too..
          • by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:30AM (#22545246) Homepage
            The problem is that if they did that, they'd have nowhere to put it.

            Unless you want to create an international organization with its own territory (sort of like the UN headquarters) that controls global routing- it can't be subject to any national law because it's got its own extraterritoriality (although international lawyers would tell me it's not true extraterritoriality, blah blah blah).

            But somebody has to control THAT organization, and unless its mandate is simply to maintain the internet routing in a transparent manner between national-level routing domains...
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mpe (36238)
            Not to mention that they should keep ALL manner of global routing out of countries that censor the internet...

            Thing is that there dosn't appear to be a candiate country to do this. You'd need one without any culture of censorship and a strong enough military (including globally targeted nuclear missiles) not to be pushed around by the countries interested in censorship.
            • by Shakrai (717556) * on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:22AM (#22545812) Journal

              You'd need one without any culture of censorship

              Sweden!

              and a strong enough military (including globally targeted nuclear missiles) not to be pushed around by the countries interested in censorship

              Oh. Shit. Well, ya had to muck things up with that requirement, huh?

              Wait, I know! The United States can take over Sweden! Then we'll have one country with no history of censorship and nuclear missiles! It's perfect!

              Hmm, free software/movies and Swedish chicks for me..... warmer weather and cheap blue jeans for them. Sounds like a win win for everybody concerned... and if any of those Swedes complain we'll just censor them ;)

    • by rustalot42684 (1055008) <fake@@@account...com> on Monday February 25, 2008 @09:59AM (#22544916)

      A zealous ISP ignorantly decides the best way to comply with the decree is to re-route all of YouTube's IP addresses to whatever site they thought was more appropriate. The first repercussion was that YouTube disappeared from the Internet for almost an hour. I suspect the second repercussion was that Pakistan's Internet access crawled to a halt as all of a sudden they were handling IP requests for one of the busiest sites in the world.
      So I suspect that they do have an AS number that allows them to upload global routes. I agree they should lose it though; censoring your own country is bad enough, but screwing up the rest of the world is absolutely unacceptable. I need my dancing cats!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:05AM (#22544984)
      The route was announced by AS17557.
      • by suso (153703) *
        Ding ding ding! You win a prize. Wow, this is one of the most useful comments I've ever seen on Slashdot. Not that its really useful now. But it does answer my original question accurately.
      • by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:36PM (#22546776) Homepage
        "The route was announced by AS17557"

        Youtube had a route for 208.65.152.0/22 (208.65.152.0 - 208.65.155.255), but Pakistan's main ISP in Hong Kong announced a route for 208.65.153.0/24 (208.65.153.0 - 208.65.153.255) to keep youtube off their net. What they didn't understand though is this really needs to be kept as a local routing policy so it only affected Pakistan, but it sorta snuck out and affected the entire network.

        Routing is the soft underbelly of the net.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe if the article would link to the actual story instead of linking every word to its definition in order to appease the losers who are incapable of tying their own shoelaces or using google, it would be easier to understand for those of us who actually DO have technical know-how and don't need it spoonfed to us.

      http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080225-insecure-routing-redirects-youtube-to-pakistan.html [arstechnica.com]

      Basically, pakistan telecom blackholed the network using BGP to advertise that all traffic to thos
    • by bluesky74656 (625291) on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:46AM (#22546066) Homepage Journal

      Pakistan Telcom does have an ASN number. Just for kicks, try this:

      Head over to this site [routeviews.org]. It visualizes the BGP routes between different AS's. Click 'Start BGPlay'. The prefix in which YouTube lives is 208.65.153.0/24. Set the start time for about 24 Feb 2008 10:00, and the end time for about 25 Feb 2008 03:00 (times are UTC). Start the simulation.

      You'll see a bunch of ASNs. Two have red circles around them. You can get their name by clicking on the number. On the left is YouTube, and on the right is Pakistan Telcom. Click play and watch what happens.

      For those too lazy to actually watch this: All the routes destined for YouTube head towards Pakistan Telcom instead. Then, midway through, you see PCCW get wise and shut down those routes, and everyone slowly starts finding the actual YouTube. It's pretty neat to watch.

    • Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited [wikipedia.org] is the former government telecom monopoly.
      Just about any ISP is going to get themselves a BGP Autonomous System Number and use BGP to communicate with other ISPs.

      A long long time ago, when the Internet was smaller and more trusting, long enough ago that I've forgotten the names of the guilty parties, some company in Virginia made a mistake in configuring their router, and announced that their T1 was a really really good route to MAE-East, and about 1/3 of the packe

  • CBG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zedekiah (1103333) on Monday February 25, 2008 @09:54AM (#22544876)
    Worst. Title. Ever.
    • Re:CBG (Score:4, Funny)

      by owlnation (858981) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:14AM (#22545088)

      Worst. Title. Ever.
      Closely followed by the award for most incomprehensible summary. I've re-read it twice. I have no idea what is happening. Seems Pakistan has destroyed the internet or something. Although, despite living in the People's Republic of (formerly Great) Britain, my internet seems to be working. I can even access YouTube.

      Unless it's all a cunning plan by my Governemnt to make it seem like I can connect, but reality I'm behind Hadrian's Firewall and surfing the UK Intranet. Which, admittedly, knowing the UK Government is perfectly possible... All I know is living in the UK I'm in no position to criticize the Pakistanis, because their country is much freer than mine.
      • Re:CBG (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) * on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:41AM (#22545354) Journal

        Closely followed by the award for most incomprehensible summary. I've re-read it twice. I have no idea what is happening

        Basically a Pakistani ISP decided to implement the block of Youtube by announcing a new route for the IP addresses owned by Youtube that presumably directed all of that traffic into /dev/null or elsewhere. By accident (one would presume -- there is no reason to do this on purpose) those routes were announced outside of Pakistan by said ISP, whose upstream provider then relayed them to the rest of the internet (sheer stupidity on their part -- their configuration should have prevented this). Said upstream provider then decided to cut Pakistan off until they are able to correct the problem.

        All I know is living in the UK I'm in no position to criticize the Pakistanis, because their country is much freer than mine.

        Yeah, I can't help but remember how Gordon Brown seized power in a military coup and allowed a leading member of the opposition to be brutally assassinated by extremists. It's amazing how far the UK has fallen, isn't it?

        C'mon! As an American I can certainly sympathize with your disillusionment over your own Government's policies but get some perspective. It's not yet that bad. Freedom in the United States or United Kingdom isn't dead until people stop fighting for it and become as apathetic as you sound when you make statements like that.

        Your country gave us the Common Law, the Magna Carta and the foundations of Representative Democracy. You stood alone against Hitler for all those lonely months between the Fall of France and the involvement of the Soviet Union and United States. That stand likely saved Western Democracy from Communism or Fascism. Start fighting for your freedoms instead of whining online about how much better Pakistan is. I suspect that the people fighting and dying for Democracy right now within Pakistan would have zero sympathy for your point of view.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        Although, despite living in the People's Republic of (formerly Great) Britain, my internet seems to be working. I can even access YouTube
        Did you try yesterday? YouTube was offline yesterday from the UK when I tried from two unrelated ISPs.
  • by br00tus (528477) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:01AM (#22544932)
    There is a NANOG [merit.edu] thread about this. Apparently a more specific IP route was advertised.
    • "malicious" routes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by br00tus (528477) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:12AM (#22545058)
      I should also note that while the Slashdot story says these routes were maliciously announced, there is no evidence of this. This type of thing has happened before by accident many times. That it was accidental makes more sense anyhow - which is more probable, that there are a bunch of network wizards in Pakistan with state-of-the-art equipment decided to take out Youtube, or that a handful of overworked and undereducated network technicians in Pakistan were told by management that they had to block Youtube immediately, and in their haste their blocked route accidentally leaked to the outside world? I would say the latter, especially considering that they stopped advertising the route soon after they began getting a lot of complaints.

      I should also point out that while bureaucrats in Pakistan may be bone-headed for blocking content, companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, Cisco and so forth are the ones who built things like the "Great Firewall of China". Lots of Americans like the point their finger at governments like China, whereas they could actually have more of an effect in making companies in their own countries stop building this sort of stuff.

      • That it was accidental makes more sense anyhow - which is more probable, that there are a bunch of network wizards in Pakistan with state-of-the-art equipment decided to take out Youtube, or that a handful of overworked and undereducated network technicians in Pakistan were told by management that they had to block Youtube immediately, and in their haste their blocked route accidentally leaked to the outside world? I would say the latter, especially considering that they stopped advertising the route soon a
        • "This needs to entail serious repercussions to discourage them or anyone else from trying things like this in the future. I'd say for a start, take the whole god damned country offline for a week and see if the King gets the point then."

          Or you might be doing him a favour ? If a government were to revoke access themselves they might find themselves facing a rebellion. If someone else does it for them then the blame is passed on. The effect is, never-the-less, the same. The Internet has been censored.

          Of cours
      • by STrinity (723872) on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:43AM (#22546034) Homepage

        I should also note that while the Slashdot story says these routes were maliciously announced, there is no evidence of this. This type of thing has happened before by accident many times. That it was accidental makes more sense anyhow


        Propagating the change to the rest of the world may have been accidental, but the purpose -- to block YouTube throughout Pakistan -- counts as malicious in my book.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:07AM (#22545004)
    A lot has happened since the original story was written.

    It's too bad that my comment from yesterday [slashdot.org], which links to detailed technical information [cydeweys.com], is still languishing buried.
  • by proverbialcow (177020) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:08AM (#22545010) Journal
    The PieNet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. PieNet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.
    • by proverbialcow (177020) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:38AM (#22545326) Journal
      Sarah: [narrating] Dyson listened while the Terminator laid it all down: PieNet, Judgment Day, the history of things to come. It's not everyday you hear that you're responsible for 3,141,592,653 deaths. He took it pretty well.

      Miles Dyson: I feel like I'm gonna throw up.

      John: Too much pie? Do you need some Redi-chill?

      T-1: Cool Whip, dickwad.
  • If we can convince the Bush administration that T-E-R-R-O-R-I-S-T-S could use this to cyber attack us, maybe we can get them on the side of good for once!
  • by TheHawke (237817) <rchapin&pelicancoast,net> on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:13AM (#22545068)
    Sounds familiar, right along with the right to sentence to long jail terms, a few victims that got raped, letting the rapists go nearly scot-free.
    They might as well isolate the country, keeping them from experiencing the interwebs altogether, it'll be impossible to keep their youth from being corrupted.
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:13AM (#22545076) Homepage
    To the people here in the U.S. who consider the Bush administration an oppressive theocratic regime, pay attention. This is the sort of thing an ACTUAL oppressive theocratic regime does.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:22AM (#22545156)
      Just because other crap smells worse doesn't mean my own crap doesn't stink anymore. All oppression needs fighting, not just the blatant stuff.
    • by lixee (863589) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:26AM (#22545210)
      Tu quoque? This idiotic line is getting old. Yes, we get it. The US is better than the scum of the Earth that is al-Qaeda and their supporters. But for the love of God, quit justifying wars of aggression and other unconstitutional acts by see, it could be worse. It's only works with mentally challenged people.
    • by 404 Clue Not Found (763556) * on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:29AM (#22545232)

      To the people here in the U.S. who consider the Bush administration an oppressive theocratic regime, pay attention. This is the sort of thing an ACTUAL oppressive theocratic regime does.
      You mean the secret to appreciating my country is to simply lower my standards? Damn it, why didn't you tell me this earlier? I could've been a guilt-free patriot so long ago!
    • by CmdrGravy (645153)
      It's a good thing Pakistan is such a good friend of the US and it's firm friend in the war against terror otherwise things might be a lot worse.
    • by Builder (103701) on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:13AM (#22545692)
      Being the second fattest chick in the bar does NOT make you skinny!
    • by billstewart (78916) on Monday February 25, 2008 @01:04PM (#22547222) Journal
      Pakistan isn't a theocracy. Pakistan is an occasional-democracy heavily-tribal state ruled by a military dictator who's in serious trouble trying to retain power when lots of people want to get rid of him. Musharraff is a Muslim, but his religiousity goes about deep enough to get him a Muslim funeral when he dies, if his body doesn't get blown up into too many little pieces to bother burying.


      So if an Islamic court has any authority to order the PTT to block YouTube because of "blasphemy", it's because YouTube is carrying political news about the situation in Pakistan that Musharraff doesn't want people in Pakistan watching. If Iran had tried that kind of thing, that really would be a theocratic problem, but that's not the issue here. If they implemented it in a way that blocks YouTube from the rest of the world, it's because of incompetence, not malice. (That kind of thing happens a lot, usually because somebody does a bad job of router configuration, but usually ISPs filter out incorrect advertisements; their upstream provider didn't do a good enough job here.)


      So in some sense it is similar to Bush in the US - pandering to the religious right wingers as a way to get radical right-wing politics done.

  • by 1sockchuck (826398) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:13AM (#22545080) Homepage
    Better technical explanations of the event are available from the Renesys blog [renesys.com] and Data Center Knowledge [datacenterknowledge.com]. The erroneous IP assignments spread across the net within 1 minute, 45 seconds of its announcement by Pakistan Telecom, according to a timeline by Renesys. It took about 80 minutes for YouTube to inform its providers that the route had been hijacked. YouTube says it is "investigating and working with others in the Internet community to prevent this from happening again."
  • obQuote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:16AM (#22545102) Homepage Journal

    Evidently PieNet took this step to enforce a decree from the Pakistani government that ISP's must block access to YouTube because it was a source of blasphemous content.

    The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.
    --Thomas Jefferson
  • by weave (48069) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:17AM (#22545106) Journal

    "Works for me."

    /ticket closed.

  • by ruinevil (852677) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:17AM (#22545108)

    The telecommunication authorities are claiming in Pakistan that YouTube was blocked for featuring allegedly blasphemous documentaries. While this move if triggered by this motive is as foolish as burning an entire library just because on a page of one of the books someone has scribbled a couple of words against you, it is far from truth. Actually Musharraf is a very self centered and insecure man these days and has recently learned from his sycophants that YouTube carries many videos critical of his government especially his torture on lawyers and political captives and since during this campaign technology played critical role in influencing people he wants to block out every kind of criticism.
    This is exactly what I'm talking about.
    • by flajann (658201)
      "While this move if triggered by this motive is as foolish as burning an entire library just because on a page of one of the books someone has scribbled a couple of words against you,..."

      The burning of libraries is nothing new in the sordid history of humanity. How foolish of us to think it wouldn't take on a new form in today's technologically enhanced world.

  • All Things Pakistan [pakistaniat.com] points out that this may have a political rather than a "cultural" reason - given that a number of videos of election rigging were posted.
  • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:24AM (#22545188) Homepage
    Yes, OMG! How am I going to survive this day, the day that youtube.com went down the tubes?

    A bit less hyperbole might have been more apt here, dear editors.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ultranova (717540)

      Yes, OMG! How am I going to survive this day, the day that youtube.com went down the tubes?

      It's not that you can't survive without YouTube; it's that a lot of people are going to be quite pissed at Pakistan right now. I'm sure that all the major *chans are planning an invasion as we speak, the Pirate Bay is arming torrents of mass destruction, and the botnet owners are bringing their armies to DEFCON 1.

      /b-tards, pirate fleets, and zombie hords; Pakistan is going to feel the full wrath of the Internet.

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:26AM (#22545212) Homepage
    Censorship aside, no one should be struggling for YouTube. That's just sad.
  • by autocracy (192714) <slashdot2007@@@storyinmemo...com> on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:31AM (#22545262) Homepage
    I submitted this article yesterday while it was happening, but of course at that time details were even more sparse (speed vs. informative.. oh well). Some of the BGP routing information I captured is printed out on Wikinews [wikinews.org]. The basic idea is that Pakistan Telecon, BGP [wikipedia.org] Autonomous System [wikipedia.org] number 17557 began being chatty, saying that it owned Youtube's netblock. It did this using a /24 routing prefix [wikipedia.org], whereas Youtube exports its route as a /22 (which it should...). Because the /24 was more specific, it became the primary route of reference. This is similar to the "AS 7007" incident (Google it... there's no one good link) back in the late 1990s (one of two incidents in the history of the Internet that has brought the entire Internet down, IIRC).

    I'll check back for related questions to fill in any blanks later :)

  • Pakistan is generally a pretty tolerant country when it comes to matters involving religion. After all, they elected a woman as PM awhile ago. Musharaf is however a hardline dictator who has the power to greatly improve his country by setting a precedent for stepping down gracefully, but apparently like any other dictator, he's going down swinging. The US in praticular has a way of framing any problem with the middle east as a religious issue. It's a region with a whole hell of a lot of problems, religion b
  • heh. (Score:3, Funny)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:47AM (#22545410)
    still at least the Pakistanis will now the spared the inevitable custard pie and ridicule videos that will now flood youtube parodying this fuck up.

    I'm more in favor of this being motivated by the large number of vote rigging videos and independent news vids floating around youtube that are outside of Pakistani government control.
  • Gutenberg (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Max_W (812974) on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:12AM (#22545674)
    Once the Islam world already did the same error. In 15th century when Gutenberg invented the printing press the Islam countries were a way ahead in science.

    But mullahs forbade printing for 200 years, while in Europe it exploded. Mostly it was silly: religious stuff, cartoons, sex, but it was also maps, mathematics, etc.

    Internet is about the same as an invention of printing was then. And again they are making the same mistake, again due to a fear of mullahs to lose their power.

    Like 500 years ago it will just slow the development of their civilization.

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