I have always eschewed Blogger. It really didn’t appeal to me. Not least, being something of a control freak, I wanted absolute control over my content, the look of the site and various add-ons and plug-ins. And, should there be any blowback over content, to be the one making the decisions about compliance with a take-down request or to fight it. But that’s just me and I have to pay for the privilege. Self hosting isn’t free.
Blogger is free and relatively easy to use, so I do understand why people use it. However, you do so with the background understanding that you are not in control. That concept is coming home to roost.
Blogger sites can now be blocked on a “per country” basis after a change to its web address system.
Google will now be able to block access in individual countries following a legal removal request.
The new system means blocking will not require restricting world-wide access to a blog.
So they are following in the trail blazed by Twitter recently.
It all sounds so reasonable. They are doing this to preserve freedom of speech – yes by blocking content and restricting freedom of speech, they are preserving it. After all, blocking in one (or more) country isn’t the same thing as a world-wide block. Well, yes, that’s true enough. But then, it is still censorship. It is still a restriction on freedom of speech and specific country laws do not necessarily mean merely libel or incitement to violence. It could be as simple as criticism of the regime. But because Google is being so accommodating about it – how jolly decent of them – your harsh piece about, say, the behaviour of a government oppressing its people – oh, I dunno, Syria, for example – could be blocked quite legitimately because it breaches Syria’s laws and the regime says so. It will be even harder for the denizens of a country with an oppressive regime to be able to use Blogger as a samizdat. But, then, it isn’t really censorship, is it? Not really…
“Blog readers may request a specific country version of the blogspot content by entering a specially formatted ‘NCR’ URL, ” the company wrote in the Q&A.
It is not clear, however, if this would work for requests to access blocked blogs made from the jurisdiction in which the removal notice originated.
They should be able to answer this. The concept of being able to override the block becomes pointless otherwise.
Irrespective of whether it is possible to override the block, what we have here is appeasement. Appeasement, as any fule no, never works. Once the monster has had his crumb of submission, he comes back for a bigger bite. He always does. So expect to see more of this. It’s a victory – albeit a small one – for the bad guys.