Wednesday, February 27, 2008

YouTube Censorship Sheds Light on Internet Trust

If you happened to be searching for a video at Sunday afternoon, there's a good chance your browser told you it was unable to locate the entire Web site. Turns out, much of the world was blocked from getting to YouTube for part of the weekend due to a censorship order passed by the government of Pakistan, which was apparently upset that YouTube refused to remove digital images many consider blasphemous to Islam.

According to wire reports, Pakistan ordered all in-country Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to, complaining that the site contained controversial sketches of the Prophet Mohammed which were republished by Danish newspapers earlier this month. The people running the country's ISPs obliged, but evidently someone at Pakistan Telecom - the primary upstream provider for most of the ISPs in Pakistan - forgot to flip the switch that prevented those blocking instructions from propagating out to the rest of the Internet.

To understand how a decision by bureaucrats in Islamabad could prevent the rest of the world from accessing arguably one of the Web's most popular destinations, it may first help to accept the basic notion that when the Internet was designed decades ago, everyone on the network pretty much knew and trusted one another. While the close-knit family of individuals responsible for keeping the Internet humming along has since grown into a larger community, it is still a fairly small community based largely on trust and everyone playing nice with one another. [...]

Read more ...
Brian Krebs on Computer Security. The Washington Post Company.

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