Google Will Censor Blogger on a Country Base Similar to the Twitter Censorship Policies
Not only Twitter, but also Google has joined the censorship campaign ordered by governments and big players. Google announced that it will censor Blogger posts. If you thus have a blog at Blogger, don’t expect to see your posts live in your country if you dare to speak out too loud against your government.
Google runs Blogger as its free blogging service where users can create their own blogs using the tools provided by the search giant to post opinions and share community content. Google will censor personal logs to ensure that the content complies with the laws of the particular country. There is thus no such a thing as freedom of expression as the worldwide government lock-down on information continues.
Country Domain Censorship
Any personal posts at Blogger will in future be redirected to country domains such as .za for South Africa or .uk for the United Kingdom. Google has stated that through a migration policy to the specific countries, they will be able to allow more freedom of information flow which will also allow for more flexibility when it comes to the control of information removal requests by a country according to its laws.
Google has furthermore stated that the by country policy will ensure that the impact of information removal will be limited as opposed to keeping the blogs at Blogger.com without redirection to a country domain.
Similar Censorship Policies
Let’s be fair about it all. Google and Twitter are companies and if they want to survive they have to give in to the requests of governments such as the USA and China, but they try to keep everyone happy. Twitter recently announced that tweets would be censored according to the country of origin.
Previously users of Blogger and Twitter could use the services according to the regulations of the USA laws, allowing for more freedom of expression. Countries such as China wanting to exert a lot of control over information flow, however, don’t particularly agree with the USA laws. As such a by country censorship is needed. It does ring alarm bells about the recent Information Secrecy Bill of South Africa. With such a broad act in place, South African bloggers at Blogger may soon find that their posts don’t show simply because they post about sensitive issues.
The trend of large Internet companies bowing to the wishes of governments should be alarming. People have grown accustomed to the Internet as a place where information is shared openly and where search results reflect the most accurate sites or posts for a particular query. Note that in future the most relevant ones may be hidden and in some cases already are.
With Blogger and Twitter ranking amongst the most visited Internet sites, a lot of traffic and information will be affected by the censoring policies. Blog posts will be removed and entire blogs can become invisible. Google’s remedy for the situation is to ensure a country based blocking only where the posts will not be seen in the country domain area. According to the company, not many changes should be expected.
If you are adamant to see a blog post, you will still be able to do so by entering the NCR URL which stands for No Country Redirect. This will allow you to see the content whether you are in another country or not.
With the new country domain censor policy, Blogger users in South Africa will when they access blogspot.com be redirected to BlogSpot for South Africa. The bad news is that the South African government will be able to implement censorship regulations, ensuring that South African users will not be able to see content that the government deems to be inappropriate. For the Internet savvy user there is hope with the NCR URL, but for the rest, complete information black-outs can be expected.
Activists in countries where freedom of expression is already limited, including Middle Eastern countries, some of the South American countries, and of course, China, have expressed their concerns. For most it seems just another ploy to keep citizens under control.
Twitter has announced that it will not randomly remove tweets without notifying users that some content is missing. Users will be able to see the censored content as will be the case with Google’s Blogger at a specific website called chillingeffects.org.
Why Do Companies Such As Google and Twitter Comply With Censorship Policies?
Twitter for one, wants to expand its user base worldwide. If they don’t act responsibly, they could end up in severe clashes with governments around the world. The same goes for Google. In order to get access to markets, they must compromise and ensure that their sites meet the laws of the particular governments, possible when they initialize country based censor systems.
One should understand that the companies have employees in the very same countries where they want to expand. If they don’t comply with the information control laws of those countries, their employees may be endangered. Google has shown that some side stepping can help them expand to countries such as China. The company did in the past regulate content originating and used in China, but because of a clash with the government, now routes traffic for China through Hong Kong, where more freedom of information flow is allowed.
How to Access Censored Blogs
Users can still see blocked content by simply changing the user settings showing that they are within another country domain area. If for instance, a Blogger post is blocked in South Africa, a user changing their settings to the USA, may still be able to see the content.
South African YouTube users may have already seen how censorship works upon visiting YouTube videos where messages are displayed that the content is blocked. One for instance, gets a message stating that the video cannot be viewed because of copyright laws of the country.
Governments fear micro blogging sites and the ease of registering a blog at Blogger because such sites can be used to spread news fast. A statement at a blog doesn’t really cause harm, but if that statement goes viral, it can easily become a threat to a government. Google will censor Blogger just as Twitter has censorship policies for tweets. Whether the blocked content will still be accessible in future remains to be seen as restrictive laws have become the norm rather than the exception.