The You Tube blocking (orders by PTA to ISPs can be found here) in Pakistan has taken the local blogosphere by the storm – for obvious reason. The news was broken and extensively discussed at various local mailing lists.
The highly sticky video website contributes as much as 1/10th of the entire Internet bandwidth according to some estimates. That’s a crazy big statement.
Every technology blog that has any Pakistani connection has a post about this major disruptive development. While most of the fellows are obviously mad on this blocking, my take is that we might be better off having this issue. The persistent problem (of Internet censorship done the wrong way) is not being intermittently flashed to us any more – instead, this event throws it right into our faces.
That Internet censorship is bad and useless is an established fact but that it happens worldwide in both developing and developed worlds is even more established fact. In the absence of compelling Internet applications in Pakistan, Internet remains the sole killer application for the broadband mass uptake the government appears to be so concerned about.
Hence, given all the boom that Pakistan is experiencing right now (and hopefully after the recent elections results of which have so far pleasantly surprised both Pakistanis and the rest of the world), it is important that we ensure that Internet remains the platform that is relevant to the population and that the Internet consumption keeps an upward consumption trend. The system needs to graduate on this front and move towards improving our infrastructure to be able to keep up with the bare minimum implementations of the various rulings given under the law of the land by the higher courts (which, no doubt, need a big and continuous help that will help them understand the technical intricacies of the cyberspace).
This blockage is huge in terms of impact. Everyone will feel it. From the end users to the media companies and micro content producers to the civil society relying on the powers of You Tube and packet video prevalence, everyone is going to talk about it. Now is the time stop using Cisco ACLs and use layer 4 solutions where the filtering must happen.
I believe this will force the PTA and the government (and the trigger happy PTCL’s PIE) to upgrade their infrastructures so that the delicate balance between civil liberties and our societal sensitivities is well kept.