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YouTube taken off the air in Pakistan

26 February, 2008
By Allison Orr

The Pakistani government has blocked access to the video-sharing website YouTube, because of a movie clip about an upcoming film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders.  The soon-to-be-released film is apparently anti-Quran in content, portraying Islam as fascist and prone to inciting violence against women and homosexuals.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority ordered the country’s Internet service providers to block access to the site, however, according to BBC News, Pakistan Telecom "hijacked" the site’s servers, causing erroneous Internet protocols to be put in place, which redirected all traffic from the site, not just in Pakistan.  As a result, anyone connecting to the site from almost anywhere around the world was blocked for about two hours, until the problem was tracked to Pakistan and fixed.

It is believed the total block was a mistake and was not done maliciously, but Google Inc, the owners of YouTube, are putting measures in place to ensure a global blackout of the site cannot happen again.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, the Geert Wilders clip may not be the only reason the government wants to block YouTube. Shahzad Ahmed, a civil rights activist, is quoted in the article saying that a great deal of anti-Musharraf material has been put on YouTube, and that the government has been looking for a reason to block the site.

This is not the first time YouTube has been blocked for political reasons.  Turkey, Thailand and Morocco have all blocked the site for showing clips considered offensive by the government.

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