- 26 Feb 08, 15:23 GMT
A couple of hours ago BBC colleagues in Islamabad told me they were able to get onto YouTube without problems, and now Google has been in touch to confirm that the blocking of the site by the Pakistani government appears to be over.
Separately, a software company that makes it possible for users in countries like China to get access to blocked sites told me they’d seen a big spike in traffic from Pakistan over the last two days, so it looks as though many people were already getting round the ban.
It still isn’t entirely clear why the campaign to prevent Pakistani users getting access to YouTube ended up causing a worldwide outage on Sunday. But network engineers seem pretty sure that it was a mistake. The most detailed account I’ve seen is in this blog by Danny McPherson of Arbor Networks.
After including a helpful link to the order (pdf link) from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority telling ISPs to block YouTube, Mr McPherson goes on to outline in painstaking detail just how they might have set about that task. He concludes that it was unlikely that the impact beyond Pakistan’s borders was intentional – but expresses concerns about what the whole incident says about the security of what he describes as “this extremely fragile and vulnerable piece of infrastructure.”
Still, the fact that YouTube is now back in action in Pakistan makes me revise my thoughts on the clash between governments and the freedom of speech and thought which the internet promises. Yesterday I thought it was a case of Government 1, Internet 0. Now it looks as though, the internet has struck back with a couple of late goals.
The plot thickens. Pakistan's Telecoms Authority now says it has unblocked YouTube because the offending clip - a trailer for a supposedly anti-Islamic film by a Dutch politician - has been removed. "I've been told that this video has been taken out and we have issued instructions to unblock this website," PTA chairman Shahzada Alam Malik told APTV.
He wasn't happy at my suggestion that YouTube had blinked. But I'm putting that down as another goal for the government - making it Government 2, Internet 2.
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