Google is redirecting Google.kz searchers to Google.com domain in Kazakhstan, whose government is demanding all .kz domain names run on servers in that country.
Google said it is redirecting its search users in Kazakhstan
to its primary Google.com domain after the government in the central Asian
country attempted to place controls on Internet use there.
Under President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Ministry of
Communications and Information in Kazakhstan ordered all .kz domain names to run
on server computers inside that country.
This mandate means that Google would have to route all
searches to google.kz, a localized version if its search engine, to servers
located within Kazakhstan's borders. As it is in most countries, Google is the
leading search engine.
This is counter to Google's cloud computing model, where
searches are facilitated by thousands of servers running in parallel to deliver
users results as quickly as possible.
"We find ourselves in a difficult situation: creating
borders on the Web raises important questions for us not only about network
efficiency but also about user privacy and free expression," wrote Bill
Coughran, of research and systems infrastructure, in a blog post
"If we were to operate google.kz only via servers
located inside Kazakhstan, we would be helping to create a fractured Internet."
Thus finding Kazakhstan's rules untenable, Google is
sending visitors to its google.kz domain to google.com, where the results will
not be customized for Kazakhstani users. This will mean a reduction in search
quality, something that Google works hard to avoid.
But in taking this stand for a free Web, Google believes
it is siding with the lesser of two evils, as Coughran noted:
"Measures that force Internet companies to choose
between taking actions that harm the open Web, or reducing the quality of their
services, hurt users."
This isn't the first time Google has had to fiddle with search
results in countries.
Google ceased censoring search results in China in
January 2010 after a cyber-attack it believed originated in that country
infiltrated Gmail accounts.
Google later closed
Google.cn and redirected searchers to Google.hk, where it served users
uncensored search in simplified Chinese. China later pressured Google to halt
Google earlier this month said
hundreds of Gmail accounts were hacked by attackers from Jinan, China, an
accusation the Chinese government refuted.