Google Continues Silent Censorship


Google blocks lazy pirates by refusing to autocomplete the names of certain sites

Google has blacklisted more words from its Autocomplete and Instant search services in an effort to curb online piracy, it has been reported.

According to a TorrentFreak report, Google began voluntarily blocking top file-sharing websites from the service in January 2011, and has been adding to it regularly ever since.

Stop lazy pirates

While not blocking the sites from appearing on the search engine altogether, this more subtle form of censorship prevents piracy related site names and search strings from appearing automatically when users begin typing them in the search bar.

This, according to the report, includes searches referring to popular torrent sites such as “thepiratebay,” “the pirate bay,” “isohunt,” “torrentreactor,” “btjunkie,” “kickasstorrents,” “sumotorrent,” “btmon,” “extratorrent” “Torrent”, “BitTorrent”, “RapidShare” and many others. Ironically, a simple search for “Pirate Bay” showed the desired result after typing the first two letters.

The Torrent Freak  report also notes that the updated list now includes several cyberlocker websites that were previously left unfiltered, such as “4shared,” “filesonic” and “fileserve.”

“While there is no silver bullet for infringement online, this measure is one of several that we have implemented to curb copyright infringement online,” Google spokesman Mistique Cano previously told TorrentFreak, adding that making some narrow and relatively easy changes to its Autocomplete algorithm, the company could play its part in reducing piracy.

According to IsoHunt owner, Gary Fung, this shows Google is going down a dangerous path, and although more subtle than the censorship in the PROTECT IP and SOPA bills, such things can lead to a Big Brother syndrome.

Despite critisism, Google has claimed that this filtering has reduced the quantity of searches for the filtered sites, and will continue this programme  along with the 500 tweaks it makes to its search algorithm annually, aw well as its ongoing efforts to reduce content farms and improve relevant search results.

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