Google’s Blogger Attempts to Protect Content by Country: Redirects .com Blogs to Country-Specific Domains
Yesterday one of my Twitter followers pointed out that his blog on the blogspot.com domain was, oddly, redirecting to the Canadian country domain blogspot.ca. I had a look, and soon determined I was seeing my own blog, http://conniecrosby.blogspot.com being redirected to http://conniecrosby.blogspot.ca. Blogs on the blogspot.com domain are from Google’s Blogger platform.
Upon further investigation, I learned that I would see all blogs on the blogspot.com domain on the blogspot.ca domain because I am in Canada. Those in other countries except the U.S. will see blogs on the country-specific domains for their own countries, whether .co.uk, .fr, .de, or .in to name a few. Those in the U.S. will continue to see all the blogs on .com.
No notice was sent to Blogger subscribers, and this has caused confusion for a number of us (most have not noticed the change yet). Here is an excerpt of the explanation found on the Google Support site:
Q: Why am I seeing a URL change?
A: In the next few months the website address of a blog you’re reading may be redirected to a country-specific domain. For example, if you’re in Australia and viewing [blogname].blogspot.com, you might be redirected to [blogname].blogspot.com.au. The country-specific domain should correspond to the country where you’re currently located.
Q: Why is this happening?
A: We are doing this to provide more support for managing content locally. If we receive a removal request that violates local law, that content may no longer be available to readers on local domains where those laws apply. This update is in line with our approach to free expression and controversial content, which hasn’t changed.
Q: Where will I see this change?
A: We’re rolling out these changes in stages, so in the coming months you will see country-specific domains implemented in additional countries.
Q. Does Google provide notice to blog owners when it removes content?
A: Yes. When content is removed from a blog, the author and any account administrators are notified by email and receive a message on their Blogger dashboard.
Q: What would a reader see if a post is removed from a blog?
A: When content is removed from a blog for any reason, readers attempting to access it will see a message indicating that the content has been removed. A copy of every removal notice we receive relating to Blogger is sent to Chilling Effects for publication on their web site. In addition, we disclose the number and nature of government requests for content removal biannually in our Transparency Report.
It appears that Blogger is attempting to partition content by country to allow for compliance to take-down orders by countries while maintaining the content for other countries. See the full explanation from Google.
Early reports are that this change has broken a number of gadgets (plugins or widgets) that people have on their blogs. One of the contributors to Forbes yesterday noted the change also broke Disqus, a third party blog comment tracking system that some bloggers and commenters use.
And while Google says that this should have no effect on domain redirects where people have the sites directing to their own custom domain names, I am not convinced this is working (I haven’t come up with enough examples to show this one way or the other, though).
I have never seen this solution used before. Do we have other examples of this type of selective mass redirecting? Do you think this will be effective in protecting content from one country to the next?
And do you care if you see all the .com blogs showing up as .ca (Canadian) even if they originate from other countries? I would be curious to know what CIRA thinks about this.
Image source: excerpted screen shot from the CIRA website.