Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat character was a self-proclaimed anti-Semitic, homophobic and generally idiotic spokesman for Kazakhstan in the British Comedian’s mocumentary “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” – alienating a whole country in the process. It’s needless to say the people of Kazakhstan were not happy with the way their country was portrayed in the film, especially considering the fact they are one of more tolerant states to gain independence from the former USSR.
Google, the search giant, is in danger of doing the same with its move to redirect traffic from Google.kz (.kz is the ccTld for Kazakhstan) to Google.com after the government in the central Asian country attempted to place controls on Internet use there.
In a controversial move, the Ministry of Communications of Kazakhstan recently ordered all .kz domain names be run from servers within its own country – a move which would force Google to run Google.kz from within Kazakstan and to route all its Kazakhstan searches through this server.
This goes against Google’s cloud computing model, where searches are facilitated by thousands of servers across the globe running in parallel to deliver users results as quickly as possible.
Bill Coughran, of Google research and systems infrastructure, wrote in a blog post June 8:
“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,”
“If we were to operate Google.kz only via servers located inside Kazakhstan, we would be helping to create a fractured Internet.”
To avoid this problem for Kazakhstan searches, Google is now redirecting visitors from Google.kz to Google.com allowing users to search a broader basis thus diluting results – something Google would ideally like to avoid.
In this instance they have chosen the “lesser of two evils” as Coughran continues to note:
“Measures that force Internet companies to choose between taking actions that harm the open web, or reducing the quality of their services, hurt users. We encourage governments and other stakeholders to work together to preserve an open Internet, which empowers local users, boosts local economies and encourages innovation around the globe.”
This is not the first time Google has taken steps of a similar nature. In the past Google redirected visitors from Google.cn to Google.hk as a result of continued hacking attacks which Google believed originated from China.