Google follows Twitter’s lead and will use country-code top level domains to censor content as required
Google has revealed that its Blogger service will now be able to block content on a country-by-country basis, just one week after Twitter announced that it would implementing a similar filtering strategy.
By utilising country-code top level domains (ccTLD), Blogger will automatically redirect browsers to the localised version of the blog they are visiting, thereby streamlining Google’s ability to comply with a country’s specific laws.
“Migrating to localised domains will allow us to continue promoting free expression and responsible publishing while providing greater flexibility in complying with valid removal requests pursuant to local law,” wrote Google on a help page. “By utilizing ccTLDs, content removals can be managed on a per country basis, which will limit their impact to the smallest number of readers. Content removed due to a specific country’s law will only be removed from the relevant ccTLD.”
Twitter’s decision to introduce this selective censorship attracted criticism from users last week, suggesting that the site was effectively aiding oppressive regimes squash freedom of speech. Google’s implementation has been lower key, and whilst critics will argue the same points, the company has emphasised that the measure will prevent blanket censorship of content whilst keeping them in line with the law.
Google’s help page example explains that a typical Blogger URL – i.e. [blogname].blogspot.com – viewed in Australia would become [blogname].blogspot.com.au. In situations where a user wishes to view the original site rather than the localised version (to change the site’s language for example), they have also added a special ‘/NCR’ URL, which stands for No Country Redirect and will show the original site if it is in line with a country’s laws.
The BBC reports that Google will initially roll out the changes to Australia, New Zealand and India, but plan to apply the measures globally.