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Censorship Google Government Privacy Social Networks The Media Your Rights Online

Google Begins Country-Specific Blog Censorship 250

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-for-your-eyes dept.
bonch writes "Google will begin redirecting blogs to country-specific URLs. Blog visitors will be redirected to a URL specific to their location, with content subject to their country's censorship laws. A support post on Blogger explains the change: 'Over the coming weeks you might notice that the URL of a blog you're reading has been redirected to a country-code top level domain, or "ccTLD." For example, if you're in Australia and viewing [blogname].blogspot.com, you might be redirected to [blogname].blogspot.com.au. A ccTLD, when it appears, corresponds with the country of the reader's current location.'"
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Google Begins Country-Specific Blog Censorship

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  • by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @04:41PM (#38896425)

    This only works toward reducing the trustworthiness of Blogger as a blogging platform.

    Blogs dealing with sensitive topics in certain countries will simply go elsewhere. Yes that elsewhere runs the risk of being blocked by that
    country, but at least it will be that county doing the blocking, not Google.

  • So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @04:43PM (#38896447) Homepage Journal

    So much for Do No Evil. I'm sure it will be spun into how this makes Blogger a better experience for everyone.
  • And thus begins... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @04:51PM (#38896557)
    ... the end of the Internet as we have known it. The future will consist of, possibly inter-connected, networks that show different groups their own version of the world, or part there of, tailored, censored and controlled according to the whims of "those who know better". Different truths for everyone. Yes, that will help bring us all closer together as a planet and as a people. (sarcasm intended)
  • by Aryden (1872756) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @04:51PM (#38896561)
    Or you could actually RTFA, or at the very least, Razzlefrog's post.
  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spidercoz (947220) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @04:55PM (#38896615) Journal
    They're not doing evil, they're just enabling it.
  • Re:So much for... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interval1066 (668936) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:05PM (#38896731) Homepage Journal
    I think the motto should "Do no evil, unless it interferes with our business model."
  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GodInHell (258915) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:13PM (#38896821) Homepage
    When it includes censoring people who do not live in those countries so that the plebs who do cannot be told how much their nation sucks.

    Worse, this begins the process of actually fracturing the internet into sub-nets for national use. If I want to reach a global audience I'll have to make sure I don't do it in a way that will offend anyone in a country with bullshit over-pious litigators in government (looking at you Aussies) or a totalitarian regime bent on rewriting history (Hi China) or some asshole country with fucked up copyright and patent laws (hello U.S.A.).

    So -- you can have a global blog, so long as you only blog about how awesome consumerism and particular Chinese products are.

    -GiH
  • Re:So much for... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maxwell demon (590494) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:16PM (#38896865) Journal

    I think the motto should "Do no evil, unless it interferes with our business model."

    The second part is always implied in everything a company says.

  • by Artraze (600366) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:21PM (#38896935)

    > Once censorship starts it doesn't ever stop.

    Sez you. Remember back when "Schweddy Balls" was pushing the limit of what was allowed on TV? Remember when McCarthyism made certain _ideas_ essentially illegal?

    Censorship is done at the behest of people or their leaders. It's something that comes and goes and people decide what should be visible or not. Sure _sometimes_ it's forced upon a society, but that's usually (and really by definition) the result of a totalitarian government. But really, isn't that the real problem?

    When a people decide they don't want guns, or drugs, or prostitution, or gambling, or certain forms of expression they pass laws against them. So you think "censorship" is stupid and wrong because it doesn't hurt anyone. Good for you. I think that most of the aforementioned laws are stupid and wrong and they hurt people more than they help. But you know what? Sometimes people get hurt by things, and they pass laws against them because they feel that the law hurts them less. Yeah, it sucks, but it's not Google's fault, nor is it their duty to change it. This censorship crap is no more "evil" and "slippery slope" than Google, say, not selling booze in Islamic countries or whatever. You don't agree, I don't agree, but if the Germans, for example, are made extremely uncomfortable by Nazi stuff, should Google tell them to piss off when asked to block it?

    That actually would be rather mean of them, I think...

  • by stanlyb (1839382) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:27PM (#38896997)
    Your Ass Has Been Redirected To Your Country Specific Jail. Be happy that you are not redirected to some China's jail.....
  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:28PM (#38897003)

    So much for Do No Evil. I'm sure it will be spun into how this makes Blogger a better experience for everyone.

    Actually, yes, yes it will. Instead of being forced by law to remove the content from everyone's view or be forceably blocked by that country (or sued), Google is allowing everyone else to see the censored content, and only blocking it where the law demands it.

    Respecting the law of a country is not "evil". It may not be the right thing to do (depends on the country and law at hand, certain laws/governments are unjust and should be protested), but it is also not evil.

    Oh, and you can still see the censored content anyways (www.google.com/ncr), so, there is that, also.

  • by bonch (38532) * on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:32PM (#38897047)

    You're citing absurd examples like selling booze in Islamic countries or banning Nazi content that makes Germans uncomfortable. Government censorship is far more sinister, silencing criticism of leaders and quieting stories of the government abuses or the punishment of political dissidents. It's also not something that "comes and goes" like a summer breeze. Overturning an all-powerful government structure is extremely difficult and often bloody. We're talking about people's lives here.

    If this wasn't Google, it might not be considered as huge an issue in relation to other companies' foreign censorship compliance, but there are two contributing factors: 1.) Google's dominant presence on the web, and 2.) Google's public embrace of concepts like openness and freedom, seemingly when it suits them. Their power and ideology give them a greater moral responsibility; that's the drawback of being #1 in a given industry.

  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Artraze (600366) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:44PM (#38897161)

    Define "not actually in", because after a quick search:
    http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/locations/ [google.com]

    We see they have an office in Australia, which was the domain used in the summary. And quite a few around the globe, of particular note is China, which is so often the center of discussions like these. Also, Thailand, which I believe was brought up with regards to Twitter and blocking posts critical of their king.

    Are you suggesting that because their corporate HQ isn't there that "they" aren't there? Or are you suggesting that they don't _need_ to be in those locations, and so could pull out?

    Finally, I'll note that you said "enforcing questionable laws". Don't you mean "evil laws"? I mean, if obeying the law is evil, then surely that law is evil, right? Or does it only become evil when enforced by Google because they aren't entire present where the law matters?

    I dunno. This always gets so confusing. Like, why isn't Google evil for taking down ads for Canadian pharmaceuticals at the request of the FDA? Actually, I seem to recall people were saying they were evil for allowing the ads in the first place. Maybe it's that HQ thing again... That "good" is upholding American (oh, like specifically the USofAmerican) laws and ideals and "evil" is upholding the laws of other countries in those countries because their HQ is in the USA?

  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:50PM (#38897221)

    but at what point did *obeying the law* become *evil*

    when the law is wrong, that's when!

    do I really need to invoke a godwin, here? or cite US history from the civil war era?

    confusing 'law' with ethics, much?

    and no, we don't expect google to be ethical. we stopped believing that, what, five or more years ago? it did not take long for the google shine to wear off and for us to all realize they are a self-serving company, just like all the rest.

  • Re:So much for... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:54PM (#38897259) Journal

    They're not doing evil, they're just enabling it.

    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

    Well, they're not doing nothing, but I think he had something in mind other than helping evil along the way.

    Also, if the metaphorical road to hell is paved with good intentions, then where do you think bad ones might lead?

    Bottom line is this action is evil since it serves no other purpose than to allow evil. That is in no way neutral.

    But this is not news. Google abandoned any pretense of sticking to their motto long ago.

  • by Artraze (600366) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:16PM (#38897477)

    Absurd how?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_Germany [wikipedia.org]
    "Membership in a Nazi party, incitement of hatred against a segment of the population (Volksverhetzung) and Holocaust denial are illegal in Germany. Publishing, television, public correspondence (including lectures), and music are censored accordingly, with legal consequences that may include jail time."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition [wikipedia.org]
    "Saudi Arabia completely bans the production, importation or consumption of alcohol and imposes strict penalties on those violating the ban, including weeks to months of imprisonment, and possible lashes."

    So.... Wut? They're absurd because... they don't ruffle your ideological feathers?

    Are you honestly trying to say that Google should be part of a process that you admit is "extremely difficult and often bloody"? If we're talking about people lives here, why don't we talk about the lives of their employees in these countries, who could be arrested under some kind of 'conspiracy to undermine public welfare' or what have you?

    And the real question is, why Google? Why not you? You could run a tor node. You could host simple blogs; it's quite cheap. And you even have the advantage over Google because you don't have any connection to these countries and those don't have to worry about your employees being arrested.

    Or right, sorry, you said already:
    They're big and have the greater responsibility to enforce your morals.

  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AtomicJake (795218) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:42PM (#38897713)

    Google is not censoring anything. They are not stopping freedom of speech.

    They ARE redirecting blogger blogs through ccTLDs.

    Correct. But why is a user outside of the USA redirected to a ccTLD, if he asks for "blogger.com"? More and more corporations are doing this redirection and it sucks big time. I, and probably most people, know how to write "google.de"or "google.fr" - if I write google.com, I want the same page as users in the USA. And the same is true for amazon, dell, hp, blogger, twitter etc.

  • by fightinfilipino (1449273) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @07:28PM (#38898091) Homepage

    as trite as it sounds, "i was just following the rules" and "i was just following orders" have often been lame excuses covering up horrible abuses against humanity. actively enabling the stifling of free speech is a horrible abuse.

    i recognize the issue is much more complex than that, but then, so should you.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @07:57PM (#38898385)
    Helping a totalitarian regime pretend like they allow free speech by allowing only speech they approve, furthers their goals. Google is playing the roll of Uncle Tom or the Jewish police in the Nazi ghettos. When they allow Syria to censor speech, what argument will they have when the US government asks them to censor speech? Do you really think that's not coming? The world is slipping into a very dark place right now, and every concession that providers like Google make, will be looked upon with shame by future generations.
  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:54PM (#38899141)

    Which is preferable, and who's gonna pay collateral damages in latter two cases?

    It's pretty obviously preferable that they take down the whole website. Then people notice. There is a large hole in the Internet where the site used to be, things still link to it, and people realize that and start looking for ways around the block. Then many people have sufficient incentive to take countermeasures and the censorship is thwarted.

    If you allow only the target of the censorship to be removed, maybe nobody notices, or more people conclude it isn't worth working around because they don't need to read solely the things the government has classified as unprintable. It makes the censorship more effective, because only the target of the censorship is removed and nothing more, which substantially reduces the incentive for that country's people to fight it.

    If the government indulges in web censoring, what makes you think it would even as much as say "sorry" to a luckless SoB who lost his site along with whole blocked hosting domain?

    When there are only a small few people who are disadvantaged, certainly. That's how they get away with it -- if the government screws over one person at a time, everybody else goes on with their lives with insufficient incentive to work together to help the one victim. If a government screws over everyone at once by taking down major websites, it's a lot more likely they'll have to answer for it.

    Obviously some countries are more resistant to public pressure than others (e.g. Iran, China), but even they are not totally immune -- and even if they don't actually change their position and remove the blocking in the short term, at least people will have more incentive to bypass it and make it ineffective. They're more likely to ultimately give up trying to block information if their attempts to do so are ineffective.

  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @10:46PM (#38899455)
    You know that putting it in caps doesn't make it true, right? It isn't arrogance to expect human rights to be respected when you do business, its ethics. So yes, we can blame google for staying in a repressive country, and following the rules. If they want to enact country specific censorship, they could block out that country's access to the site with "your country does not support basic human rights like freedom of speech."
  • by Serpents (1831432) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:40AM (#38900677)
    The only thing I can say is: Good, maybe the people living in countries with censorship will finally move and do something about it. It has happened before, you know [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Asic Eng (193332) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @07:31AM (#38901337)
    Apart from the censorship angle, this redirection stuff is pretty annoying when traveling. Just because I'm in Korea this week, doesn't mean I can read Korean. I didn't enter the URL for the Korean page either, so why do they insist on giving me what I didn't ask for?

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