Pakistani sparks worldwide YouTube outage

Most of the world's internet users lost access to YouTube for several hours after an attempt by Pakistan's government to block access domestically affected other countries, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the outage highlighted yet another of the internet's vulnerabilities, coming less than a month after broken fiber-optic cables in the Mediterranean took Egypt off line and caused communications problems from the Middle East to India.

An internet expert likened the cause of the outage to 'identity theft' by a Pakistani telecommunications company, which accidentally started advertising itself as the fastest route to YouTube. But instead of serving up videos of skateboarding dogs, it sent the traffic into oblivion, the report said.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered 70 internet service providers to block access to YouTube.com, because of anti-Islamic movies on the video-sharing site, which is owned by Google, the report added.

The Associated Press report further said the authority did not specify what the offensive material was, but a PTA official said the ban concerned a trailer for an upcoming film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has said he plans to release a movie portraying Islam as fascist and prone to inciting violence against women and homosexuals.

The block was intended to cover only Pakistan, but extended to about two-thirds of the global internet population, according to Renesys, a Manchester, N.H., firm that keeps track of the pathways of the internet for telecommunications companies and other clients, the report said.

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