Sunday, June 01, 2008

Filtering content by IP location *sigh*

How often have you been trawling through the net, only to find yourself blocked by a message reading something like "this is only available to citizens of ..." or "this is not available outside ...". Now obviously I can understand some of the restrictions. The BBC for example prevents access to Iplayer to non-UK IP addresses on the basis that the people in Britain pay a tv license for the content.

Nonetheless there are quite a few examples of instances where it is unnecessary. For example during the 2004 presidential elections, George Bush's campaign website was not accessible to people outside the US. Why? It isn't as if there are eligible voters outside the US or even some interest from the rest of the world as to what the president's policies might be. Also Google believes it is being helpful when it automatically forces people who visit the .com site to go to their local site, yet clearly they have not requested local content. Access the language translation of numerous government pages and you'll normally find an entirely different version of the site, targeted at overseas citizens. Even youtube has started blocking videos on the basis of location - and speaking of youtube - I don't think the number of views a video receives is particularly accurate, but perhaps that is a rant for another time.

Regardless localised content is great when it is asked for, but websites which force it upon users or restrict access purely for nationalist reasons are going against the spirit of the internet.

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