Google gets into Kazakhstan web tiff

Google says it will redirect the citizens of Kazakhstan away from the country’s customised search engine after the government asked that all search queries go through local servers.

The problems began last month when the Ministry of Communications and Information in Kazakhstan ruled that all .kz domain names, such as google.kz, should operate on physical servers within the borders of that country.

The order ruffled the feathers of Google, which claims the requirement means it would have to route all searches on google.kz to servers located inside Kazakhstan, instead of through servers around the world.

This would slow down search results and put across fears that the country was trying to “create borders on the web”.

“If we were to operate Google.kz only via servers located inside Kazakhstan, we would be helping to create a fractured internet,” said Bill Coughran, SVP of research and systems infrastructure, from Google’s bog.

He added that the move would not only threaten “network efficiency” but also “user privacy and free expression”.

As a result, the company will direct citizens towards Google.com.

Although Kazakhstan isn’t as tightly censored as China, the country does have restrictions in place. In 1999 it begun pushing internet censorship, while in 2007 Kazakhstan’s information minister Yermukhamet Yertysbayev  vowed to purge Kazakh sites of “dirt” and “lies.”

In 2009 the government succeeded in passing a bill which would mean that all content that appears online as “media” like blogs, chat rooms and discussion forums, would be monitored and shut down if they were deemed to give information against the country.

It also proposed blocking of international websites in Kazakhstan without giving the owners of the site a fair chance to defend themselves.

However, there was a little bit of relief earlier this year when the authorities decided to give  users in the Central Asian country access to the bog-o-sphere. As long as the blogs said nice things, of course.

The Kazakhstan Embassy in the UK said it was unable to comment.