With its open infrastructure, the Internet has always allowed anyone with a connection to communicate with anyone else on the network. It's not limited by national boundaries, and it facilitates free expression, commerce, and innovation, until some governments decide to create borders on the Web.
Last month, the Kazakhstan Network Information Centre notified Google of an order issued by the Ministry of Communications and Information in Kazakhstan that requires all .kz domain names to operate on physical servers within the country's borders: the search giant was told to route all searches on google.kz to servers located inside Kazakhstan. Currently, when you search on any of Google's domains, the company's systems automatically handle those requests the fastest way possible, regardless of national boundaries. Since creating borders on the Web reduces network efficiency and limits user privacy and free expression, Google has decided not to help create a fractured Internet. For now, Google will redirect Kazakhstani users that visit google.kz to google.com.
On the one hand, Google has found a loophole in the Kazakhstani government's plans to create borders on the Web. On the other hand, the change means Kazakhstani users will experience a reduction in search quality as results are no longer customized for Kazakhstan.
"Measures that force Internet companies to choose between taking actions that harm the open web, or reducing the quality of their services, hurt users," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "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 certainly isn't the first time that Google has tried its best to fight what governments decide is best for their citizens. The search giant is in a strong enough position to wage such a war, though sometimes we wonder if that's a good thing.
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