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Google Co-Founder: Web Freedom Under Threat

Posted by: , 12:54 AEST, Wed April 18, 2012

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Google co-founder Sergey Brin warns the Internet as we know it is under increasing threat from governments, the entertainment industry, and even the likes of Apple and Facebook
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Image/Photo Credit: runJMrun @ Flickr, CC

Google's co-founder, Sergey Brin, has warned that the very principles behind the founding of the Internet are under threat, from the likes of Hollywood, governments, and even competitors Apple and Facebook.

Speaking in an interview with the UK's Guardian, Brin expressed his fears that the Internet as we know it is in danger, under attack by "very powerful forces".

While criticizing countries like China, Saudi Arabia and Iran for censoring the Internet, Google having partially pulled out of China for this very reason, Brin says a lot of what's happening in those countries are beginning to happen elsewhere, including in the United States.

And a lot of the impetus behind moves to censor the Internet appears to come a surprising source - the entertainment industry, and Brin had very few good words to say about the major Hollywood studios and the record labels behind controversial legislation like SOPA and PIPA. Brin accused the entertainment industry of "shooting itself in the foot, or maybe worse than in the foot" in their attempts to reign in web piracy.

Brin says the piracy problem instead is one about service, where piracy actually now offers a better user experience than most legal content, and without solving this problem, the piracy problem can't be solved either. "I haven't tried it for many years but when you go on a pirate website, you choose what you like; it downloads to the device of your choice and it will just work – and then when you have to jump through all these hoops [to buy legitimate content], the walls created are disincentives for people to buy," he added.

The entertainment industry's copyright lobbies, the MPAA and RIAA, have already accused Google of not doing enough on piracy. Both want Google and other search engines to filter search results and remove links deemed inappropriate by content holders, something Google has resisted doing so far.

But perhaps the most controversial statements made by Brin during the interview was regarding fellow competitors Apple and Facebook, who he also blames for the potential destruction of the web as we know it. He says that Apple and Facebook's "walled garden" approach, where their proprietary nature allows them full control of what can and cannot be done with their platforms, means that the next Google may never happen. " "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," Brin warned.


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