Blogger Redirect Makes Censorship Easier For Google
Much like Twitter’s recent announcement concerning country-specific censorship, Google is getting on the fun by redirecting Blogger blogs to country-specific URLs. This means if you are in India and you’re trying to navigate to a Blogger.com blog, you will, in all likelihood, be redirected to the country-code top level domain, or [nameofblog].blogger.in domain, instead of its American counterpart.
Google has set up a page specifically addressing the redirects, and in their explanation, it also reveals their plans of country-specific censorship, something the redirection makes much easier:
Migrating to localized 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. 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. [Emphasis added]
It’s odd to see “free expression” and “valid removal requests” in same sentence, but here we are. Google’s page goes on to promise “the majority of the content hosted on different domains will be unaffected by content removals,” but the fact remains, they are positioning themselves to remove content that much easier.
Another feature appears to be of the circumvention of the country code top-level domains, at least in relation to accessing the content:
Blog readers may request a specific country version of the blogspot content by entering a specially formatted “NCR” URL.
NCR stands for “No Country Redirect” and will always display buzz.blogger.com in English, whether you’re in India, Brazil, Honduras, Germany, or anywhere.
As for the content creators, it seems these blogs will be available via country-specific domains, which again, only helps Google when it comes to content removal requests. The question is, what constitutes a “valid removal request?” Would a blog post be removed if, say, local officials in Iran didn’t appreciate being criticized by an Iranian blogger and ran to Google with a takedown demand? Would Google comply? Or is this only in relation to foreign blogs that infringe on intellectual property?