Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Update 14 June, 7:40pm: After we published this post, the Kazakhstan authorities issued new guidance stating that the order no longer applies to previously registered domains. In practice this means we can re-launch google.kz. While we’re pleased that we can once again offer our users in Kazakhstan customised search results, we encourage the Government of Kazakhstan to rescind this requirement for all future .kz domains as well.
The genius of the Internet has always been its open infrastructure, which allows 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 in ways that we could never have imagined even 20 or 30 years ago.
Some governments, however, are attempting to create borders on the web without full consideration of the consequences their actions may have on their own citizens and the economy. Last month, the Kazakhstan Network Information Centre notified us of an order issued by the Ministry of Communications and Information in Kazakhstan that requires all .kz domain names, such as google.kz, to operate on physical servers within the borders of that country. This requirement means that Google would have to route all searches on google.kz to servers located inside Kazakhstan. (Currently, when users search on any of our domains, our systems automatically handle those requests the fastest way possible, regardless of national boundaries.)
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. So we have decided to redirect users that visit google.kz to google.com in Kazakh. Unfortunately, this means that Kazakhstani users will experience a reduction in search quality as results will no longer be customised 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. 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.