Facebook, China and Iran are web freedom threats says Sergey Brin

Apr 16, 2012
22

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has warned of "very powerful forces" looking to undermine the openness of the internet, echoing Eric Schmidt's concerns and admitting he is "more worried" than ever before. There are "very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world" Brin told the Guardian, describing the situation as "scary." He didn't hold back on dishing out blame, either, citing Facebook and Apple as building walled gardens that do users - and rivals - a disservice.

"I am more worried than I have been in the past" around the increasingly tight controls different companies and countries are trying to apply to the internet. Internet piracy - or, more precisely, content owners trying to clamp down on it in increasingly draconian ways - is also a concern, Brin revealed.

"I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle" Brin said of internet restriction, such as the firewall in China and talk of a "clean" Iranian internet. "But now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle."

Although not as dangerous as such governmental control, Brin isn't backward in naming his competitors as also stifling innovation, especially when it comes to indexing content on their platforms for use in Google's search engine. "All the information in apps, that data is not crawlable by web crawlers" he pointed out. "You can't search it." Facebook has been an increasing foe for Google, with the two companies falling out publicly over synchronization of contacts in Android phones with Facebook friends. Google yanked native support for Facebook contact inclusion in the Android address book, after the social network refused to allow exporting.

"Facebook has been sucking down Gmail contacts for many years" he said of the site. "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."

Schmidt, meanwhile, used his Mobile World Congress keynote to warn users not to accept the loss of internet freedoms, even if they were presented as only small changes. Such an evolution is made of of "moves that seem logical, but have the effect of Balkanizing the internet" the Google chairman insisted.


Must Read Bits & Bytes