Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The mystery of country-specific URL re-directs explained

I have noticed very recently that visitors to various blogs (including my own) are being re-directed to country-specific URLs when visited by readers from specific countries. So far I have seen variants of my blog (whose true URL is ending in:
.IN (for India) (for Australia) (for New Zealand).

A quick search on Google (where else!) reveals that this is no mere fluke. It is a practice being rolled out by Google/Blogger across various countries (starting with India, apparently) as a way of putting in place country-specific 'filtering' of content to 'comply with local laws' - or CENSORSHIP to you or me! You can read Google's rationale for this here.

I am surmising this is all the fall-out from the recent difficulties that Google had experienced in China, where it agreed initially to comply with censorship reqirements there by filtering out content viewable there that the government there did not like, until later it decided to pull out of China entirely, after an international outcry. This new mechanism presumably gives Google the ability more easily to censor content viewable from specific jurisdictions and thus 'comply with local laws' more readily (CENSORSHIP in other words!) whilst in theory not affecting content viewable elsewhere.

Whilst one cannot imagine plausibly that countries such as Australia or New Zealand, perhaps India too, are going to attempt to censor content viewable in their territories, what this change means is that the building blocks are being put in place, for commercial reasons, by Google to allow them to protect their own business interests with possibly immense negative consequences for freedom of information and speech.

Google may choose to call this 'complying with local laws', I call it what it is:

"Anticipatory" medical care for the elderly in a Nairn GP practice

Research into end-of-life medical treatment for elderly patients by Nairn and Ardersier GP practice involved the creation of "anticipatory care plans" for 100 high-risk patients.

This sounds all very fine and dandy, but trying to get the medical and care services merely to take more than a passing interest in the care and medical needs of a frail elderly neighbour, also in Nairn but registered with a different GP practice, over the past few weeks has been frustratingly different; one almost gets the impression that they would prefer that she drop down dead to save them the bother (and cost) of intervention. So much for high-falutin' research when contrasted with not-so-'Best Practice'!

Such action, little as it is so far, has only happened because of the intervention of several concerned friends (me and another in the main) intervening direct with Social Services to put a spur to their flanks! Not happy!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Facebook account deleted

(Please see UPDATE at end)

I have just permanently deleted my Facebook account. It is very difficult to find out how to do this, but I have finally managed it. Apparently my data will be retained for two weeks, in case I change my mind, but I think this most unlikely. I am currently in process of removing all references to my former Facebook account in my other websites and blogs.

On one previous occasion I 'deactivated' my Facebook account, because at that time it seemed impossible to delete it, but was persuaded back for various reasons, but those reasons have disappeared. I continue to use Twitter, which I find a much more congenial and less obtrusive platform.

UPDATE (Tuesday 7FEB2012 08.02 GMT) I have resurrected my Facebook account, but will be restricting severely the way I use it from now on; I will not (at least for the present) be adding back the link to it here. Apart from a few specific uses (to exchange information with one or two people only), the only motivation for me to return is to retain the username and not allow it to be used by someone else in the future - I'm afraid I cannot write anything more positive.