I get the Canadian federal government site at gc.ca. That is using google.ca so your mileage may vary. Google snifs out my incoming IP address and knows it is from Canada so it feeds me google.ca. I can try google.com specifically but it doesn't matter, I get google.ca. I can get around this by masking my IP or in other ways, but that's a lot of bother.|
A number of sites do this, Yahoo for example, and in that case if I try to sign up for an email address it wants to give me @yahoo.ca even if I want @yahoo.com. This practice is taking some power away from the end user to choose what they access online based on national boundaries, and isn't a trend I particularily care for. In the above examples it is just search engines trying to be helpful and relevant and even that causes problems. How do I know if I give a link that others will receive the content I intended? But as was suggested in the yahoo.fr case, it could be used to control content flow across national boundaries.
This does have one perhaps unintended side-effect. I used to type google.com to get to google.ca, but it's easier to type google.ca so that's what I now use. This means that Google and other highly used sites are probably educating Canadians on the existence and use of their ccTLD, and this may also be true in some other countries. I suspect an analysis of ccTLDs like .ca, .de (Germany), .uk (United Kingdom, .jp (Japan), .au (Australia), etc. would find that a greater percentage of addresses are in actual use than in gTLDs, that is, less speculation and cybersquatting, less defensive registrations. With dropjackers picking up expired names and pointing them elsewhere, and with the WLS about to turn this into a major industry for .com and .net, I expect websurfers will receive ever-increasing lessons that the use of domain names to find things isn't very accurate, and that .com and .net are generally worse that country codes (at least those of countries like the above). Not only is the DNS not very accurate, in the case of dropjackers serving up mousetrapping multiple pop-up pr0n sites, it can be downright annoying. This could transfer some power from ICANN to the ccTLDs, if ICANN and the GAC haven't taken them over.
I also think websurfers will increasingly learn that using Google is preferable to using the DNS if one is unsure of one's destination. This would put Google in a powerful position that could be misused. -g