Google Will Censor Blogger Blogs On 'Per Country' Basis
Twitter faced harsh backlash after announcing it would be instituting a new country-by-country censorship policy aimed at withholding Tweets that may violate local laws.
But now, various sources are pointing out that Twitter was actually the second network to institute far-reaching censorship policies last month.
Two weeks prior to Twitter's announcement, Google quietly announced that it would begin redirecting Blogger visitors to certain country-specific domains, which would allow the network to block blogs in countries where censorship laws are in place, Mashable and Techdows reported.
The policy has already been instituted in India, according to Amit Agarwal, a technology columnist at WSJ India.
For example, if a user in India tries to access a free blog that is served from blogspot.com, such as [blogname].blogspot.com, they would be redirected to [blogname].blogspot.com.in., or the "country-code top level domain" (ccTLD).
The policy does not affect Blogger blogs that use a custom domain.
This doesn't necessarily mean that Blogger blogs will be fully subject to the country's censorship laws, however, something Nikhil Pahwa explains on Medianama:
Google appears to be doing the same thing [as Twitter] with Blogspot. Note that this doesn't mean that Google will definitely censor everything that it is asked to by the country -- it can well refuse to do so -- but it is giving itself the ability to. However, this does send a message to the Indian government and the I'm-offended-easily-brigade, that Google is in a position to comply to requests for blocks, by blocking access to blogspot.in domains instead of blogpost.com domains; this will most likely lead to more requests for censorship.
In the first half of 2011, law enforcement agencies in India sent Blogger a total of 39 content removal requests, 24 of which were for "defamation," according to Google's Transparency Report.
Google's announcement comes in the midst of a battle in the Delhi High Court over Internet censorship.
Journalist Vinay Rai filed a private complaint against a number of social networking sites including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and YouTube for allegedly posting objectionable content, Business Today reports.
The Delhi High Court has ordered the companies to appear in court on March 13 for hosting the objectionable content, according NDTV India.
Regardless of whether Google chooses to use the policy to comply with censorship laws, Blogger users will still be affected another unwelcome change: a hit to their blog's search rankings on Google.
"All your blog pages effectively have two different URLs now and that could dilute your Google juice," Agarwal explains on his blog.
Luckily for bloggers, Google has shown in the past that it's not afraid to defy certain censorship laws. At one point, Google complied with Chinese censorship laws to block content, but after a dispute with the Chinese government the company rescinded the practice and began rerouting Chinese search results through Hong-Kong to dilute censorship, according to MSNBC.