When Bans go wrong. Pakistan vs. Youtube

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 25, 2008
Updated • Aug 9, 2010
Internet, Youtube

Once again the leaders of a country decided to ban a website because of (pick one: religious beliefs, political beliefs, constitution, local laws, medieval mindsets) which reminds me a lot of the kid that goes crying to their mama if another kid is mean to them. The other kid being Youtube in this case and the crying baby Pakistan, or more precisely the leaders of Pakistan.

An order was given to ban Youtube in Pakistan and instead of banning the IPs of the Youtube servers they decided to do this the clever way. Rerouting all Youtube IPs to appropriate content was the way to go they thought. What they did not realize at this point, or maybe they did, was that this affected ALL of the Internet because of their meddling with BGP routes.

The effect was that all Youtube traffic was redirected and that the Pakistani Internet providers had to handle all IP requests. Youtube was gone for a time and so was the Pakistani Internet not capable of handling all those incoming traffic of one of the busiest websites in the world.

This is obviously a huge flaw that there are no security barriers for something like this to happen, that an ISP in one country can affect the Internet on such a large scale.


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