Google co-founder Sergey Brin, 38, has warned that the freedom of the internet is facing its greatest threat ever in an interview with the Guardian this week.
In this frank and insightful interview, Brin claimed that the openness of the internet was in grave danger from a number of different foes. According to Brin, the main danger comes from governments across the globe trying to restrict and control their citizens access to the web and the music and entertainment industries trying to clamp down on the downloading of copyrighted works.
Billionaire Brin said; “very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world…I am more worried than I have been in the past…It’s scary.”
However he also warned that people need to be wary of the hazard of ‘walled-gardens’ created by organizations like Apple and Facebook. He believes that their restrictions on access to their users and their insular policies jeopardized the advancement of the web and risked making users fragmented and isolated.
Brin’s comments, which are made at the time that Facebook are approaching floatation on the market for an estimated $100bn/£64bn are likely to be seen by many as highly contentious. Brin even went as far as to say that he and co-founder Larry Page would have been unable to fashion Google if the web world was subjugated by Facebook. He accused them of having far too many rules and being too restrictive!
It appears that these current concerns have Brin so worried that he has gone back on statements he made many years ago, in which he claimed to believe that no country would be able to successfully curb the internet for long. In the Guardian, he made the ‘Genie in a bottle analogy’. Saying that while he had previously believed the internet could not be capped or controlled, these new developments were so startling that he was starting to fear that the genie might, after all, end up being stuffed back in the stifling old bottle!!
The recent high-profile attempts by countries like Iran, Saudia Arabia and China to censor and command the web trawling undertaken by their citizens has obviously got Brin worked up and he is not alone. Many other ‘freedom of information’ activists have echoed the fears that Brin expressed in this interview. It is commonly believed that the fear of cyber-attacks and terrorism is motivating many governments around the world to try and attempt to control what people access on the internet however futile and damaging this may be.
Whilst I agree with Brin over many of his concerns – it is definitely not a good thing if certain countries start shutting down parts of the internet and attempting to have control over what their citizens are looking at. Part of the reason the internet is so beautiful and amazing, is because it is so expansive, because it makes the world smaller and because there are so few boundaries. If governments continue to impose and increase restrictions like they have been, that power and charm will gradually begin to dissipate and no one wants to see that happen. Well, most people don’t anyway!
However I do think it’s a teeny weeny bit hypocritical of him to have a dig at Facebook and Apple over their multitude of rules and regulations…Last time I checked, Google had quite a few rules of their own too.