"Google's informal motto is 'don't be evil', but a huge change to its Blogger service could see the search giant help oppressive governments stamp out voices of protest.
Bloggers who have relied on the popular service to organise dissent as seen during the Arab Spring could find their posts being blocked by Google itself.
The company will now block posts or blogs from being seen in a country if they break their local laws, handing a victory to regimes that crack down on free speech to keep a lid on dissent.
The move has caused widespread concern - and echoes Twitter's recent decision to block Tweets on a similar 'per country' basis to comply with local laws.
Twitter was credited with the change of regime in Egypt last year, where the site was used to co-ordinate protests. Both Google and Twitter have now agreed to take down posts that violate local laws
'If more and more companies follow the lead of Google and Twitter, as seems quite likely, it could represent the beginning of the end of the truly global Internet,' says Techdirt
But Google claims that the move will actually allow more freedom of speech. The blogs will be visible from everywhere else in the world, but invisible in one country.
'This will allow us to continue promoting free expression while providing greater flexibility in complying with valid removal requests in local law,' said the company.
Blogger, a blogging service which launched in 1999, and was bought by Google in 2003, has previously been banned outright in repressive regimes such as Syria, Iran and China.
Neither Google nor Twitter are currently available in China due to the censorship demands of the government.
Google 'buried' its policy change in a page of technical information about Blogger changing to separate internet domains for each country. Previously, Blogger has been handled through one international domain.
Not an easy decision. Google and Twitter are saying: "Better half a loaf than none at all". And keeping the content up in other countries will keep it available to savvy web users who can get around controls
A lot of people in China get around Chinese controls. All my blogs are viewable in China because I post mirror copies at addresses that China does not block.