WordPress.com frequently receives demands from a growing list of nations to remove content that they believe violate a set of vague and seemingly arbitrary censorship laws.
In some cases, the demands are initiated by government bureaucrats, without oversight from a judge or other neutral body, and other times they come in the form of court orders with no realistic chance of appeal. Unfortunately, we must swiftly respond to these demands in order to ensure that WordPress.com is not blocked by a government or ISP for an entire country or region.
This is not just a theoretical concern, as we have experienced this kind of country-wide block in both Turkey and Russia as a result of our refusal to comply with takedown demands.
If a reported site does not violate our policies or Terms of Service (for selling controlled substances or publishing spam, for example), we try to take the most limited and transparent actions available: blocking the content so that it is unavailable only in the specific region involved, and also blocking the minimum amount of content possible.
WordPress.com takes this action with the goal of protecting all of the other 100+ million WordPress.com sites. When a visitor with an IP address originating from the country in question tries to view one of the blocked sites, we display a variation on the following message (in both English and where possible, an appropriate language):
The above example is shown to users in Russia, which links to an EFF article on Russian censorship and official lists of the censored material. Users may also find our guide to bypassing Internet restrictions helpful.
We forward all takedown demands to the site owners involved. However, in an effort to be more transparent about the sites that are subject to this kind of geoblock, we have compiled details (see lefthand sidebar) on the various site-wide blocks in place. The lists contain site URLs, as well as the date and time (UTC) that the block was recorded in our system.