In an interview published today, Google Co-founder Sergey Brin told The Guardian that internet openness and universal access are under immediate attack by "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," he said. "It's scary."
The threat to the internet comes "from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry's attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of 'restrictive' walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms," The Guardian reports.
In the interview Brin alludes to the reach of the US government, telling how Google is forced to hand over data and is restricted from notifying users that their privacy has been breached.
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Brin said 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," he said. "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 criticised Facebook for not making it easy for users to switch their data to other services. "Facebook has been sucking down Gmail contacts for many years," he said. [...]
He reserved his harshest words for the entertainment industry, which he said was "shooting itself in the foot, or maybe worse than in the foot" by lobbying for legislation to block sites offering pirate material.
He said the Sopa and Pipa bills championed 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. The entertainment industry failed to appreciate people would continue to download pirated content as long as it was easier to acquire and use than legitimately obtained material, he said. [...]
Brin acknowledged that some people were anxious about the amount of their data that was now in the reach of US authorities because it sits on Google's servers. He said the company was periodically forced to hand over data and sometimes prevented by legal restrictions from even notifying users that it had done so.
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