Google has quietly added county-specific URLs to Blogger blogs, in an effort to more effectively address take-down notices from local governments. The change allows Google to censor specific blogs in a single country, rather than worldwide, where rules surrounding pornographic, religious, or political content differ from other parts of the world.
The addition of country-code top level domains (ccTLDs) to Blogger follows Twitter’s highly-controversial announcement last month that it will now censor tweets only within specific countries. This change to Blogger essentially enables Google to do the same with its blogging platform.
“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,” writes Google on the Blogger support page. “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.”
The change to Blogger comes amid legal trouble for Google in India, where it, along with Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo! and 17 other Internet companies, are being prosecuted by the Indian government for allowing the publication of offensive material. The prosecution follows a lawsuit filed by Vinay Rai, a Dehli-based journalist, who charged that these companies allowed “objectionable content” into India’s digital space. Google has not publicly stated that the changes to Blogger and the legal action in India are connected.
As with Twitter’s new censorship policy, this change to Blogger appears to be a good one, since the government-forced censorship of content published on the platform will be limited to the narrowest possible audience, rather than the entire world.
Google does censor content on some of its properties in other ways, however. On YouTube, for instance, some content is blocked in certain countries based on users’ IP addresses.
“On occasion, YouTube blocks specific content in order to comply with local laws in countries where YouTube has launched,” reads the YouTube policy page. “For instance, certain Nazi imagery is unlawful in parts of Europe.”