ISLAMABAD — Pakistani Internet Service Providers may have inadvertently blocked the popular YouTube Web site across the world this past weekend when they restricted local access to the site, a telecommunications official said.
YouTube said on Monday that many users around the world could not access the site for about two hours because traffic had been routed according to erroneous Internet protocols.
The source of the problem was a network in Pakistan, YouTube said in a statement.
Pakistan ordered local ISPs to block access to the site because it was running material insulting to Islam, a Pakistani industry official said on Sunday.
[cob:Related_Articles]A government telecommunications official said the initial order to restrict local access might have mistakenly affected users around the world.
“The blocking of the Web site within the country might have mistakenly affected its worldwide service, briefly,” said the official, who declined to be identified.
But there had been no intention to block the site worldwide, he said.
Attempts to access YouTube in Islamabad on Sunday were met with a generic error message saying the site was unavailable.
A spokesman for the state telecommunications regulator, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, said on Tuesday the order had been lifted after YouTube removed the content deemed insulting to Islam.
“YouTube had been asked to remove the link, which they did, and we have subsequently ordered the unblocking of the site,” the spokesman said.
The authority had earlier justified its order to block access in Pakistan saying it was necessary to avoid unrest in the overwhelming Muslim country of 160 million people.
“It has the potential to cause more unrest and possible loss of life and property across the country,” the authority said in a statement on Monday, referring to the material.
Publication of caricatures of the prophet Mohammed published in Danish newspapers in 2005 sparked widespread anger and deadly protests in several Muslim countries, including Pakistan.
Protests have been held in recent weeks in Pakistan after the republication of one of the cartoons.
On Tuesday, about 150 students staged a rally in the eastern city of Multan and burned Danish and U.S. flags to express anger over the reprinting of the cartoon.