Internet filtering-Zazzle and beyond

Surveilance. from the Grim City series. various ink mediums on paper

Surveilance. from the Grim City series. various ink mediums on paper

It seems we are losing our individual rights to explore the internet and shop anywhere in the world. Corporations have begun to filter the internet by region and limit each region’s users to products, services and information they feel it is appropriate to have. I wish I could tell you just how serious a blow this is to internet freedom but it seems pointless as most of the people I have raised this with so far are either too deeply rooted in their own self interest of incapable of the mental acuity to see the danger.

The best I can do here will be to copy and paste the threads from my own particular tiny effort struggling with Zazzle sellers on their forum.

Me: Can I go back to being a .com seller? I seem to be in Australian servers now and all of my calendars are gone. I just spent seven months making a set of drawings for a calendar and cannot seem to even get the site to let me create one. I don’t want to be on Australian servers if I am going to lose so much of my my work.


Reply: Zazzle has many reasons why certain products do not appear on domains outside of the US and I believe the one for the calendars has probably been posted about in the forums before.


Me: Hmm. You believe it probably has eh. Yeh, I thought that as well and you are probably correct. It just seems to be a little difficult to find and posting it in here is not the same as advising me that my primary (if less than wonderful) product is no longer available to my market.

Three years of photographing AUSTRALIAN SPIDERS to use in here as a calendar because there was no limit at the time. It seems a little wasteful of my energies.

Thanks for the hint about clicking on the flag. At least I will be able to get all the drawings I have been working on into a calendar format and into some form of marketing. My family, friends and local customers from utube and facebook will not be able to see them and as they have been the basis for all my efforts over the last seven months I see a few problems but I can get a few made for Christmas presents


Reply: Your time doesn’t have to be wasted… send them links to the .com site to buy. We are in Australia and always buy from Smile

Me: I don’t think that sounds very practical does it? Imagine if Microsoft could not sell a product in a country unless they individually lobbied each buyer directly. Apart from the fact that you don’t actually know who they all are you then become one of the spammers!

I see a real problem in here and a part of it is the fact that no one seems to get the ramifications of this move by Zazzle and it’s wider effect on us all generally. My own tiny attempt to get myself published and maybe get some goods sold is now limited by regional filtering. I am discriminated against by Zazzle who have decided to limit people of my region to specific goods without some options offered to their local market. They, or somebody, is filtering attempts by local viewers to look at Zazzle products by redirecting the results of all searches to the Oceania portal. I cannot think of too many casual buyers who will want to learn new tricks just to find my products in among the two billion or so on their sites.

It is not just about me. Zazzle is filtering their products to local markets and controlling who sees them. The fact that right now there are options to get around that filter and look at the .com is just a matter of convenience for Zazzle and any other corporation. There is a general move by gaming suppliers to limit access to their games by regionally filtering people who buy them according to local censorship by governments and their own corporate entities. That means that access to the internet and the things we are able to do on it are slipping into the control of corporations and governments. The internet as a free tool of trade is being stolen away from us and people like some of those commenting in here are complicit in that by their insistence that “I am all right why should I be troubled?


2nd thread

Me: When I signed up with you guys I signed up as a member and seller on the .com servers. As I said elsewhere I have just spent seven months working through a set of drawings for a calendar. We had calendars on the .com, remember? No calendars on the Australian version so I lose all my work!

All of the calendars in my stores are gone and I am unable to get into the .com servers to make any even for my own family. I have already said it but I knew we would lose out when we were limited to the outputs of our local little dog and pony shows! How many of my products are limited to local viewers? If I was looking in the US would I even see my stores? How do I access the .com market and get my calendars online or even created for me?


Reply: Hey there, I hope I can help.

To access the different international portals just change the .com part of the address. eg to access american site use

for the aussie portal use

It is true that certain products will not show in all the international portals. But they are still there in the marketplace and in your .com portal.

It’s not very often that I market to the .au portal anyway unless there is a specific aussie coupon code, so I work mainly with the .com portal even though I am in australia.


Me: Thank you Kym you are very kind. I wonder if the wider implications of this kind of filtering have become obvious to you yet?

I wonder why I have had a lump in my stomach for the last few days and why the words “Internet Censorship by corporations” keep running through my mind.

I will, of course, put most of my items on the .com portal as it is the only place which still accepts calendars and much of my work is calendars. Of course, my family, friends, and supporters, will not be able to support me by buying any as they are mostly Australian and Australians now have a filter between themselves and the main portal!

I also have to wonder just how many Americans will buy Calendars and other items with Australian Spiders and flowers and places on them. Not all of my stuff will be purely Australian, The new ranges of drawings are universal (thank goodness) although I wonder how much of my potential market is now filtered out worldwide and how I direct my efforts towards a DECLINING population of buyers. What other nation is filtered by this corporation and what products are they limited to buying?

Lets look beyond Zazzle. Will the Washington Post or New York Times now begin to filter their sites so only stories that do not conflict with the Sydney Morning Herald or some other Australian News provider be seen when Australians access the site? Will I be unable to buy a pair of hand made shoes from JPS Boots in Missouri because the guy who sells Blundstone in Hobart has a deal with the US Government?

This is a serious enough situation as it affects my work and plans but on an internet wide scale the repercussions seem to be huge.


Reply: I’m confused by what you are talking about. If you type in the .com site are you being automatically redirected to the .au site?

Because Zazzle doesn’t do that, so I don’t know what you mean. I’m in Canada and can go to and buy from any of Zazzle’s domains if I want to including the .au or .com site.

Zazzle does not offer all of their products for sale on every domain. It’s just the way it is and is not some sort of censorship or “filter” or anything. They generally have their reasons for not offering something for sale on one of the other domains, but Australians can order calendars from the .com site. They may have to pay import charges to get them though.

The reality of Zazzle is that, although they have international domains, everything his printed and shipped from the US and sometimes that determines what they sell elsewhere. I believe calendars aren’t offered in some countries because of the difference in paper size standards in say the UK or Australia.

I hope this helps address your complaints.


I have left off the quotations here

actually when I google zazzle I get both Australian and the .com Zazzle in the list. When I attempt to click on the US portal I am redirected to the Australian one. I can get to the US portal by directly typing it in or by clicking on the flag on the site but not from the search engine references.

Not offering particular products on some domains IS censorship. The fact that they feel they have good reasons for doing so does not make it less censorship or less filtering. Everyone who censors things always feel they have a good reason.

I do not see how paper size makes any difference to someone who KNOWS they are buying a product produced in America from an American company. We buy all over the world these days and when we buy products from an international supplier we have to check that what size things are. That should be no problem in the case of calendars.

I have been buying calendars from the US and Zazzle for years and have never had to pay particular import duties. We do not pay import duties on less than a thousand bucks of product here in the case of simple mail orders.

Back to your reference to being Canadian and being able to access both Australian and the US site without a problem. I cannot do that without knowing the tricks. Would it annoy you if your market could only access the local site and not the American one from a search engine and so your main products were almost never seen locally.

How about if you tried to access a site about valuable medical supplies that would save your life and you suddenly find there is a deal with a local supplier who does not actually supply that part. If you do not know the tricks to get to the portal you will not even know those things can be obtained. It’s all great for the ones who have the access, or at least think they have. What other corporations will use this method to favor their local suppliers? Some part of my point in this is that the practice cannot be just restricted to Zazzle and my pale attempts to get stuff online. You cannot point to this practice and say “oh. Zazzle mean well and are good people so just let it go!”

How about if Rupert the media tycoon does a deal with some other media billionaire and all your search engine access from certain states in America is limited to accessing Fox media. Actually that might the straw that would get Americans to see the danger in this


Reply: There is NO censorship going on here! Zazzle is a US based company and only offers ALL products on the .com domain. Yes, they do have their reasons for not offering everything on International domains and one reason could be it is out their control to do *shrugs* International buyers, including those from Australia, have no problems with accessing the .com site to buy what is only offered on .com, so I don’t know why you insist on believing otherwise. I sell plenty to International customers, especially to ones in Australia. In fact, an Australian customer came to the .com and purchased a binder from my store just the other day. As for your issue of being directed to the Australian domain, via Google, when you had clicked the .com, would you have happened to have already been logged in to Zazzle at the time (even if you didn’t have Zazzle opened up in your browser)? Switching domains requires a login, even if logged in on one. At least it has been my experience when logged in on .com and switching by clicking a flag…I always have to login to that domain.


Me: Let me put this another way.

I have been using Zazzle for years. Long before this account began. Right now Zazzle is telling me they make a bunch of stuff but I am limited to what they want me to have. I can have them somewhere but my market does not normally have access to that place! When I produced the designs and images for these items I had every reasonable expectation that I would find the full services of Zazzle available and have full access to their marketplaces!

I do not want to be limited to what you think I should have. I want access to what is available and I want to be able to get it to my market the same way as everyone else. I do not like being discriminated against because it suits someone to do it, no matter how nice that someone is!

If I buy something and all of the facts are clearly established then any further problems like the holidays in the calendars or the paper sizes are up to the buyer to deal with! If Zazzle is unable to supply these marketplaces…say they have been struck by the world financial crisis and don’t want foreigners using up their stocks of calendars-without-holiday paper…. they might want to mention it to traders who set themselves up as supporters in full trust rather than just saying Zazzle has some tepid reasoning and you will accept it as a force majeur


left off a few comments on cookies and about it being the weekend

I feel a little sickened to placed in a position where I am forced to fight against discrimination of Australians on American domains which is what this comes back to despite all the assurances that Australians can get through to the site. All these portal doors that allow us to bypass the filtering seem to be there simply so the corporations can do exactly what the sellers in these threads have done. Basically they point to them to reassure us that we are not being filtered and can still get through. As I have said in one of the threads these doors are open and shut at the convenience of the corporation or government.

Most people will not know their content is being filtered and not know to look beyond the first outcome of a search engine.

My tiny efforts at art and publishing are negligible and will not change the world one bit. In the billions of images on the .com domain my work may never be seen outside of some general censor and a few of my family but that is not the point. Or maybe it is some of the point. I have years of photographing spiders, birds, flowers and things which have on some level been directed at making calendars with Zazzle. I have seven months of working a dozen drawings and a cover through all those heart problems and illness with the reasonable expectation that, as a member and associate seller on Zazzle, I am entitled to full service. Same as Americans. I am more annoyed than I would be otherwise because of the horrific effort I put in to get these drawings and photographs ready for a push this year. This year is important because it is the first time I have been well enough to do a wide push onto the market in the large part of a decade.

You may be tempted to dismiss my concerns on those basis. Self interest. Tiny and insignificant output and potential. You will be mistaken if you do. This affects you. You may argue that you are happy curled up in front of the television having paid your immense taxes and bred your share of the world’s burgeoning population. Governments take your silence as compliance and agreement. Corporations breath a sigh of relief and push their practices until something fails. You know like a war in a small country, a failed world economy, totalitarian control of world economics and morality by people who have a responsibility only to their shareholders! You know the kind of thing.

Do you think people should be able to do whatever they want to us via the internet? That is what is happening here. A corporation has begun to discriminate according to their desire. Today it is just me although I suspect that small people all over the world are finding problems starting to happen. There are gaming companies who are already using local filters to censor their customers according to territory. Appliance suppliers who force customers into local portals and limit the availability of product and information.

I might go on but I have hit my physical limits and am very feeling very ill.

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