Pakistan causes YouTube outage for two-thirds of world

John Palfrey, executive director for the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, said that while all the facts in the case are not yet known, it appeared that the repercussions were due to Pakistan taking a relatively heavy-handed approach in trying to censor YouTube.

"It points in many respects to the difficulty, if not the folly, in Internet filtering at the state level," he said.

Misrouting occurs every year or so among the world's Internet carriers, usually as a result of typos or other errors, Underwood said. In a more severe example, a Turkish telecom provider in 2004 started advertising that it was the best route to all of the Internet, causing widespread outages for many websites over several hours.

"Nobody ran any viruses or worms or malicious code. This is just the way the Internet works. And it's not very secure or reliable," Underwood said, adding that there is no real solution to the problem on the table.

While most route hijacking is unintentional, some Yahoo networks were apparently taken over a few years ago to distribute spam.

"To be honest, there's not a single thing preventing this from happening to E-Trade, or Bank of America, or the FBI, or the White House, or the Clinton campaign," Underwood said. "I think it's a useful moment for people to decide just how important it is that we fix problems like this."

Associated Press writer Sadaqat Jan contributed to this report from Islamabad, Pakistan.

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