A Christchurch blogger who had his blog taken down by Google earlier this year has finally had it reinstated after a 10,000km trip to Google’s Mountain View Headquarters in California.
Blair Anderson, a former deputy leader of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and Christchurch mayoral candidate, told PC World that his Mild Greens “drug policy” blog hosted on Google’s Blogger website was taken down in August.
Google claimed it had malware on it, but the internet giant provided no further details or instructions as to how he might resolve the issue, he said.
“They said nothing. I used to have approximately 50 regular readers every day but I could have an individual entry that got as many as 500 hits.”
Subsequent emails to Google and calls to Google Australia requesting a process for having his blog reinstated had garnered no response, Anderson said.
To resolve the issue, Anderson decided to take drastic action. He booked flights to Google’s Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, California, which he visited on Thursday.
“Security refused my first approach as I was seen by security cameras that surround the building taking a photo as I pointed to the Google sign.
“However, I made my point by writing a note and accompanying it with my business card and insisting that I would not go away until I had a hearing. It seemed not to matter a diddle that I had come 10,000km… and spent $2,000 just to get there.”
But despite his failure to get inside, his trip had the desired effect. Thirty minutes after his appearance his blog came back online and he received an email from Google Blogger team member Brett Wiltshire.
In the email, provided to PC World by Anderson, Wiltshire apologised for the removal of the blog. The email said the blog was taken done because of a “popular yet nefarious blog widget called BlogLinker, which was linking to known malware sites that were harmful to users”.
Wiltshire admitted that Google’s communication methods and arbitration system for people who had their blogs removed due to malware were virtually non existent.
“Since the vast majority of blogs classified as malware are created with malicious intent, we had not created a mechanism to appropriately message their removals to the affected users and facilitate appeals in cases like yours. We are actively working to correct this with more sophisticated communication systems.”
Anderson said he was happy with the outcome, but that Google’s response would be little comfort for others that found themselves in similar situations.
“I’ve come across 60 to 100 other people so affected. One guy has lost a three and a half year legacy of research into a murder investigation.”
He said he had written to Google in the hope that other similarly affected people on the Blogger site might have access to an arbitration process in future.
A Google New Zealand spokesperson did no respond to PC World’s requests for further comment.
By James Heffield