Monday, February 25, 2008

Pakistan Censors the World?

Upset with the trailors for a film on Islam by the Dutch politician and filmaker, Geert Wilders, Pakistan disrupts YouTube worldwide. From AP:

"On Friday, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered 70 Internet service providers to block access to, because of anti-Islamic movies on the video-sharing site, which is owned by Google Inc.

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, starting at 1:47 p.m. EST Sunday, according to Renesys Corp., a Manchester, N.H., firm that keeps track of the pathways of the Internet for telecommunications companies and other clients."

One wonders what risks foreign governments pose to the Internet if this was by accident.


Blogger Always On Watch said...

For some time now, I've believed that 2008 is going to be The Year of Silencing Voices.

Watch for the trend to pick up speed.

2/27/08, 8:37 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

This could possibly only happen if youtube's file storage servers are actually in Pakistan.

Well, mostly. There is some work around, but I would think that this is a vulnerability in service coverage that YouTube (and other companies paying attention) are not going to let stand for long.

2/27/08, 10:58 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

Very alarming. One of the most hopeful things that has happened in the past 50 years is development of the internet, the accompanying free-wheeling dissemination of information, and the loss of the power of governments & monopolist cronies to control information.

2/29/08, 1:42 PM  
Blogger AmPowerBlog said...

That was a freaky "occurrence."


2/29/08, 11:45 PM  
Blogger kevin said...

You Tube caved into the Pakistan's demands that some vids be removed. I doubt that the widespread shutdown was accidental, Pakistan either had help or control over other networks. China has been stricty firewalled with google's help, and now goog owns You Tube.

3/1/08, 11:44 AM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Firewalling off access to parts of the internet by blocking specific DNS (domain name server) routes is how China "censors" the internet, but even that is a losing battle.

In China (and Pakistan, Iran, and India to a certain extent) it is virtually impossible for an internet surfer to access Blogger blogs.

For example, say you're in Beijing, and you sit down in an internet cafe and type into the browser "" instead of going to Jason Pappas' excellent blog, you'll either get a "Page Not Found" error or an "Access Denied" error. (Too many "Access Denied" errors may alert China's Project: Golden Shield internet cops to track you down and toss you into prison or a mass grave...)

But, if you're in Beijing, and you type into your browser the name of one of various anonymous proxy servers the Chinese internet cops haven't discovered yet, you might be able to look at Jason's blog indirectly, without the Chinese internet cops knowing about it.

For every anonymous proxy redirecting service China chokes off access to, several more spring up in their place, like a Hydra (thanks to the shadowy work of noble hackers). Their efforts to censor the internet with redirects (Chinese Google is different than international Google, for example) is ultimately futile.

China just doesn't have the manpower to fight the various methods to circumvent their censorship protocols and firewalls. Ultimately they only have two choices:

1.) Deny internet access to their people altogther

2.) Block DNS servers physically located in other nations (which would deny functional internet access to the Chinese government itself - taking China "offline.")

Neither are enticing avenues for the Chinese government.

To me, it is as Charles N. Steele said above - very hopeful.

It's also very hilariously funny.

The "internet" was born in a US military DARPA lab some 38 years ago as a method to maintain a viable communications network between military bases and cities in case one or several links in the lines of communication were severed in a nuclear attack.

It is designed to fight lack of access. It retains that design philosophy in its functionality.

3/2/08, 12:25 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

Thanks for the info, Beamish.

I'm not sure how it worked, but when I taught in Beijing I found that by going to a friend's libertarian website I could then access all sorts of sites on the 3T's (Tibet, Tianamen, Taiwan) that were otherwise blocked. I shared this with the rest of the faculty, and we passed it on to our students.

True fun!

3/3/08, 8:00 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


I'm not sure when you were teaching in Beijing, but China didn't start building "The Great Firewall of China" (the olden Shield Project) until 1998, and didn't have it up and running until 2003.

China is behind by around 20 years in attempting to censor the Internet and plugging up possible anonymous proxy redirection routes, and even more have been created in that time since then.

For example, China might block access to Blogger directly.

Can China block access to an anonymous proxy that accesses Blogger for you?

Can China block access to an anonymous proxy that accesses an anonymous proxy that accesses Blogger for you?

Can China block access to an anonymous proxy that accesses an anonymous proxy that accesses an anonymous proxy that accesses Blogger for you?

And so on.

And it's going to get harder for China, with torrent streaming and peer-to-peer anonymous fileshare networking growing more prominent.

Freedom kicks ass.

3/4/08, 2:18 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Good info! Thanks, everyone, for adding those details.

3/4/08, 9:04 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

Very cool, Beamish.

I was in China from August-December 1998. At that time they blocked a number of websites, but we could access almost anything we could think of with a little effort.

I'm hoping that the internet is one genie the statists will never be able to get back into the bottle. It certainly looks like it.

3/10/08, 1:38 AM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


As long as there are international borders, the internet will be out of the control of any one government. The best a government can do it stop traffic routed through servers located within their borders and stop traffic from leaving routers located withing their borders - both options takes the individual nation offline.

However, something like 80% of all international internet traffic routes through servers in the United States (which is nice when foreign countries think they are passing secure information when the NSA can intercept it at anytime... another story entirely). All someone really needs is access to a proxy server outside the routes restricted by their totalitarian state and voila! - internet access that isn't yet censored by their own government.

3/11/08, 11:42 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

From what I understand Pakistan did what it did by accident, but some cyber militarists in China and Iran were very interested.

(Anonymous Proxy)

9/24/09, 7:33 AM  

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