Following Twitter’s decision last month to begin censoring the messages of users based on restrictions of their respective countries, Google has followed suit and announced that it will begin a similar practice with its own blogging service.
Blogger, the web-log service run by Internet giant Google, will begin censoring the personal posts of its users in order to comply with local laws rather than encouraging an internationally open Internet. While the company has previously allowed users of the World Wide Web to post wide-open opinions on its Blogger site, it will now allow individual jurisdictions to govern what can and can’t be posted on the Web.
Under Google’s new policies, personal pages hosted on Blogger will be redirected to country-specific URLs, such as “.in” for India and “.au” for Australia. The company writes that “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 implementing this, adds Google, “content removals can be managed on a per country basis, which will limit their impact to the smallest number of readers."
Specifically, they acknowledge that "Content [will be] removed due to a specific country's law.”
The company’s announcement comes only weeks after Twitter announced almost identical standards that will allow the microblogging site to start censoring tweets specific to their country of origin as well. With both entities representing a massive chunk of online traffic internationally, advocates against Internet regulations fear what repercussions will follow. The kick-off of the Arab Spring last year was magnified in part by the ease in which updates were transmitted from cities such as Cairo and Benghazi, where news was often relayed with tweets and emails sent direct from the scene.
Google and Twitter’s previous policies allowed users to operate as per American law, permitting a much more permeable flow of information. By adopting its new rules, however, the countries where freedom of speech and Internet are practically nonexistent will be able to censor specific topics. Those same locales, of course, are countries where the same government that censors the Internet also often enforces other authoritarian regulations that ravage hopes of Democracy.
“The change marks a new trend in American Internet companies bowing to the demands of authoritarian regimes,” writes Open Net Initiative in a statement this week. Amnesty International has also responded with a statement of their, insisting that, “As with other sectors, business decisions in the digital world have human rights implications. Human rights monitors and advocates have a lot more work to do since the digital revolution.”
“Our collective vigilance is needed more than ever,” adds the group.
According to the web-ranking service Alexa, Twitter and Blogger are the ninth and forty-fifth most visited sites on the Internet.