Google introduces country domains on Blogger to aid content removal

The decision by Google appears to precede a move by Twitter to selectively delete messages in some countries

Google is directing users to localized country domains on Blogger to provide it flexibility to comply with content removal rules in various countries.

The move suggests that Internet companies are coming to terms with the need to follow local rules, as they try to gain users in countries where there are concerns about pornography, and certain political and religious content.

Google's update on Jan. 9 came ahead of Twitter's controversial decision last week to withhold certain content from users in a specific country, when required by local laws, while keeping it available to the rest of the world.

Over the coming weeks, users might notice that the URL (uniform resource locator) of a blog they are reading has been redirected to a country-code top level domain, or ccTLD, Google said on a support page on Blogger that was first noticed by the news site Techdows.

"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," Google said. Content removed due to a specific country's law will only be removed from the relevant ccTLD, it added.

Google is facing legal action in India in connection with content on its sites that is said to be objectionable. The Indian government in January allowed a court in Delhi to prosecute Google, Facebook, and 19 others, after Vinay Rai, editor of a local newspaper, filed a suit alleging objectionable content on their websites. Google had meanwhile appealed the lower court order before the Delhi High Court.

The Indian government has also demanded that Google and others should evolve mechanisms to quickly remove online content considered objectionable under Indian law.

But the feature on Blogger is part of a global rollout, and has little to do with the current situation in India, said a source close to the situation, who requested anonymity.

Services like Blogger, YouTube and Google+ help users to express themselves and share different points of view, Google said in a statement on Thursday. Where content is illegal or breaks Google's terms of service, the company will continue to remove it, it added. Google did not respond to a request for comment whether the changes on Blogger were linked to the court decision in India.

Google's YouTube also restricts access to content by IP address, citing the requirement of some content partners to make their videos available only to certain countries. It also blocks specific content in order to comply with local laws in countries where YouTube has launched. "For instance, certain Nazi imagery is unlawful in parts of Europe," according to a YouTube support page.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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