Sunday, June 03, 2012

Blogspot Shifts to .tw domain....

Great ride yesterday. Bagged century (100 miles) with my friend Charles Tsai. 164 kilometers along the coast from Taichung to Jhunan and back. Wind was brutal going north -- took us 5 hours to do 82 kms. On the way back, same distance took a little over 2.5.

Woke up this morning and found that my blogspot blog has been shifted to a .tw rather than the global .com address. Most of you are probably groggily finding out the same thing this morning.

I picked up a post several months ago on the shift in India which lead me to this Google support post. Google never said a word about this to us bloggers (UPDATE: Now I find out it was in the news two months ago). Note that they will now be removing content which they claim violates local law....
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.
The effects of this on free speech rights around the world should be obvious. No wonder Google has been really quiet about this.

UPDATE: A commenter below points out that Google has now effectively outed everyone who wanted to keep their country of residence private, but nope, they haven't. The domain name depends on where you are when you read the blog.... as below....

UPDATE 2: The way it works is that everyone in a region sees the website with the .jp or .us domain. Google says the idea is that if the government of, say, Japan, objects to some content, Google can remove it from everyone who sees it from the .jp domain, but people in Australia or Canada will still see it. Sitting in Taiwan, everyone sees .tw. In Australia, it's Google says this will preserve content and protect speech, but I don't think they've thought it through.

Nevertheless, I've decided to keep the blog open on blogspot for now.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Anonymous said...

China just put out a shooter game based on their special ops teams.

Game is modeled after Call of Duty.
Youtube vid of the first level, a beach assault.

Note: all the enemies are American.

Ryan said...

While my blog is hardly in danger, I'm pretty cheesed off about this change. It's all so sinister. I hope this doesn't affect your blog, Michael.

Fortant Merlot said...

Anything you publish should still be visible via .com servers even if the material has been censored on servers for the local (national) domain. Any government action regarding a post is reported and published by Google as part of transparency measures. Government actions could be challenged can of course be challenged as local laws allow.

The following comes from the Google FAQ page that you linked (emphases mine).


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 [link provided at the Google page] 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 [link also provided].

Q. Can users outside of the United States still access the service’s .com domains?
A. Yes, we allow anyone to view the .com version of a Blogger blog by typing: http://[blogname] – which always goes to the .com version of the blog. The “no country redirect” (ncr) will temporarily prevent Blogger from redirecting readers to the local version of the blog.

Q: How do I do this for a single post URL, and not the entire blog?
A: Place /ncr/ just after the country-specific domain to access the individual post. For instance, [blogname] should be entered as [blogname]


When we remove content that violates local law, we only do so for the country-specific domain.


Apparently the /ncr modifier will always give bloggers a way to share content, and readers a way to view it, outside local censorship.

This is reassuring but it doesn't answer every question. I wonder about the practical effects inside a country. If you're a blogger inside Dystopia, can your government now block the .com domain from view? Readers would then try the /ncr measure and get a bad link. If they try to view the Google page showing government actions on blogs, they get another bad link. Can Dystopia create a walled environment where only .dy material is shown?

And let's not overlook this: Google just outed all bloggers who wanted the country they were posting from to remain private information. I'd say those bloggers deserved some notice before their location was disclosed.

Layton Chen said...

This is pretty cool, though. Google has added a feature that discloses the presence of censorship activity to its users inside China. The wording of the disclosure is good for a smile.

Michael Turton said...

Fortant, that's a great point on outing bloggers.

For me the issue is, Google has averred that posts on its network are now subject to local laws. This will help anyone who brings a case against me. I will probably shift platforms soon.


nicolescooter said...

How in specifically is this a 'blow at free speech' for you? Taiwan actually has better laws for bloggers since in the US by law we're forced to included legalease at the bottom of posts stating the state of our relationship with the company is travel sponsor ship was given to attend or if you aren't obligated to return a product. I don't mind being transparent, but Taiwan has no such restrictions.

Also there are some strange US laws about bloggers being banned for access to travel sponsorship. It's the governments way of giving traditional journalism the upper hand.

Are there laws for bloggers here that I'm not aware of?

Michael Turton said...

Yes, clearly there are laws whose implications you have not yet thought through. Send me an email.


Michael Turton said...

Thanks anon. Send me an email.

Oz said...

Just another reason to self-host. You really can't complain about a lack of control over your blog when you don't host it yourself.

Ultimately Google decide what you can and can't do on their platform for better or worse.

Taiwan has seen some pretty retarded defamation cases go to court over the past few years... so that might be something to think about looking forward.

Regarding outing bloggers, as I understand it the local redirect depends on the reader's location, not the publisher.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks, Oz, I've corrected all that in the post. Had a real bad scare this morning when I woke up, with no warning or explanation, to find that my URL had suddenly changed. Very disconcerting.


Sean said...

Hi Michael, I've sent you a solution, you can turn off country redirects here:

It's just a matter of copying and pasting some basic code. Apparently just changing the header does the trick.

David said...

You can change it back to a .com. That's what I did with my blog!

Michael Turton said...

Thanks guys!

Readin said...

"For me the issue is, Google has averred that posts on its network are now subject to local laws. This will help anyone who brings a case against me. I will probably shift platforms soon."

How does such a statement by Google matter?

Anyway, given Taiwan's anti-free-speech laws it is only a matter of time before you call someone a troll and then have to either pay a lot of money or prove tot he court that someone really is a supernatural being in Norse mythology or Scandinavian folklore. Good luck with that.

Steve said...

Michael, just to let you know, I wasn't able to access your blog a couple of days ago from San Diego but today it's back and under .com

Glad to see you've got it all worked out.