Google defies Kazakhstan’s attempt to “create borders on the web”, will re-route its users

As Google announced on its blog yesterday afternoon, it will start redirecting users of its customized Kazakh search engine, google.kz, to the international version. The move follows an order by Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Communications and Information that all .kz domain names are to be run on local servers. Google’s reaction means that its Kazakh users will no longer have access to a customized version of the search engine.

As a company spokesperson writes on the blog, “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.”

The order to have .kz domain run on physical servers within Kazakhstan’s borders might be an effort to facilitate monitoring and persecution of Internet use. Since 2004, Kazakhstan has a law that regulates the monitoring of user activity. ISPs are obliged to comply with a extensive data retention scheme, which has them collect and store a variety of usage information. The country’s ISPs also filter a selection of news and social network sites, although 2009 saw an uncensoring of the previously blocked blogosphere.

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