While Google faces censorship to some extent in a quarter of the jurisdictions in which it operates, search is typically not affected, according to the company.
In an Official Google Blog post, vice-president of global communications and public affairs Rachel Whetstone explains that the Google search engine itself is only subject to certain legally compliant restrictions on the results that it returns, which may assure webmasters investing in SEO services that their site will appear in the Google results pages.
The instances when sites might not be displayed include the removal of politically sensitive material in certain countries from the local results shown – but not from the results returned in other countries or on the main Google search engine.
However, Ms Whetstone stresses that “we don’t want to engage in political censorship” and that the decisions to filter results are only made in democratic societies in order to comply with local law.
She adds that removed sites are replaced in the results with a link to Chilling Effects, a site that reports not only on legal infringements by webmasters, but also on misuse of the law to try and have legal websites shut down.