Internet freedom under threat, says Google co-founder

Google co-founder Sergey Brin said he believes the principles of openness and universal access associated with the early days of the Internet are under “greater threat” than ever before.   

Indeed, Brin told The Guardian that “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.”

According to Brin, the threat to Internet freedom can be linked to governments attempting to exert even greater control over access and communications by their citizens.

Additional factors, says Brin, are the entertainment industry’s attempts to crack down on piracy, as well as “restrictive” walled gardens allegedly built by Facebook and Apple, which regulate what software can be hosted on their respective platforms.

However, Brin emphasized that he remained most concerned by countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to censor the ‘Net. 

“I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle… [But] 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.”

Finally, Brin commented on concerns over cloud-based Gmail and Docs data that can be accessed by US authorities – because it is hosted on American-based Google servers. 

“We push back a lot; we are able to turn down a lot of these requests. We do everything possible to protect the data. 

If we could wave a magic wand and not be subject to US law, that would be great. If we could be in some magical jurisdiction that everyone in the world trusted, that would be great… We’re doing it as well as can be done,” he added.