Google co-founder Sergey Brin revealed that the openness and freedom of the Internet is under the greatest threat ever. He says that there are powerful forces armed against the open Internet use across the globe and he is more worried about it than ever. Reportedly, the threat comes from a combination of factors like the government trying to gain control over their citizens’ access to the Internet, entertainment industry trying to put an end to piracy issues and also sites like Facebook and Apple who tightly decide what software can be released on their platforms. 

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Internet under threat…

Talking about Google’s partial pullout from China in 2012 due to concerns over censorship and cyber-attacks, he said that five years ago he didn’t believe that any country would ever restrict Internet for long and he has been proven wrong. Furthermore, he is said to be concerned by the efforts of nations like China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to censor and restrict use of the Internet. Brin doesn’t hesitate to warn that sites like Facebook and Apple, with their proprietary platforms and control access to their users, risk ‘stifling innovation’ and ‘balkanising’ the web. “There's a lot to be lost. For example, all the information in apps – that data is not crawlable by web crawlers. You can't search it,” he adds.

Talking about the openness that Google and its products offer and the restricted nature of ‘some popular’ (read Facebook) sites, Google is criticizing its new competitor which has revolutionized the Internet era with the new social networking age. Brin even adds that he and co-founder Larry Page would not have been able to create Google if the internet was dominated by Facebook. “You have to play by their rules, which are really restrictive. The kind of environment that we developed Google in, the reason that we were able to develop a search engine, is the web was so open. Once you get too many rules, that will stifle innovation,” he expresses.

Hollywood has been pushing legislation for pirate websites to be shut down, while the British government plans to monitor social media and web use and the openness of the web is being challenged on several fronts. China, with the maximum number of netizens has introduced new “real identity” rules, while Iran plans to introduce its national Internet. “If you compare the internet to the physical world, there really aren't any walls between countries,” he said. “If Canada wanted to send tanks into the US there is nothing stopping them and it's the same on the internet. It's hopeless to try to control the internet.” While the SOPA and PIPA bills supported by the film and music industries would have led to the US using the same technology and approach it criticised China and Iran for using.

Publish date: April 16, 2012 11:59 am| Modified date: December 18, 2013 10:03 pm

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