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No matter what you may think of YouTube, the idea that Pakistan could take down the site globally is frightening in it’s ramifications for the Internet as a whole.
The whole debacle started on Friday when Pakistan ordered access to YouTube be blocked due to videos including the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that caused such a stir last year. When the telecoms did as the Pakistani government ordered, all traffic requests for YouTube were sent to a virtual black hole where the data was discarded. The problem became global when somehow their traffic redirect got sent out to one of the twenty largest data carriers, PCCW of Hong Kong.
As this was a new request for a data reroute, from a known source, PCCW updated their databases accordingly, and that sent the data out to smaller data centers, propagating the problem on a global scale. Todd Underwood, vice president and general manager of Internet community services at Renesys, told the Associated Press that, basically, Pakistan accidentally told the world they were YouTube, and hence all traffic for YouTube was directed to their black hole of data.
This whole situation scares the living heck out of me. If a global redirect was accomplished this easily, what is to stop cyber terrorists from doing something bigger, and grander? Redirecting the IRS website for when you pay your taxes? Redirecting government traffic during a national emergency? Sending cat lovers to a dog lovers site? The potential problems this makes one ponder are endless.