Google quietly announced it will be able to censor posts on its Blogger platform, on a country-specific basis. The move only came to public attention this week, but had been announced on a Blogger help page on January 9th, weeks ahead of Twitter’s similar country-specific tweet censorship announcement.
Just like with Twitter’s move, users in countries without censorship laws will be able to view all Blogger posts, they will only be blocked from view within the specific countries. Google’s solution relies on country-specific URLs, where visitors will be redirected to their current location’s domain for Blogger, or a country-code top level domain (ccTLD).
The new blog redirection was explained on a Blogger FAQ page, where Google elaborated on the move:
“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”
Google interestingly also allows users to use a special No Country Redirect (NCR) URL, when visiting a specific-country's blog domain:
“If you visit a blog that does not correspond to your current location as determined by your IP address, the blogspot servers will redirect you to the domain associated with your country, if it’s a supported ccTLD.
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.
For example: http://[blogname].blogspot.com/ncr – always goes to the U.S. English blog.
This special URL sets a short-lived cookie (session and/or a short life time) that will prevent geo-based redirection from the requested domain. This applies to all web browsers and all Operating Systems.”
Do you think Google and Twitter have the right idea? Is this the best way to conform to laws, while still allowing for freedom of expression? Let us know in the comments section below: