The growing tendency among governments around the world to control access to the Internet poses a threat to the very principle of openness that “underpinned” its creation, Google's co-founder Sergey Brin has warned.
“I am more worried than I have been in the past. It's scary,” he told The Guardian arguing that “very powerful forces” had lined up against the notion of an open internet.
The threat came not only from increasingly intolerant governments but also the likes of Facebook and Apple which tightly controlled the software that could be put on the net.
The entertainment industry's crackdown on piracy also contributed to the shrinking openness on the net.
Mr. Brin singled out Saudi Arabia, Iran, China and Russia for attempting to restrict their citizens' access to the Internet. But he was equally concerned about the impact of the way Facebook and Apple tried to control access through their “proprietary platforms”.
Mr. Brin said he and co-founder Larry Page would not have been able to create Google if the Internet was as restrictive as it had now become. “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.”
Mr. Brin admitted that there were concerns about the amount of personal data that the American government could access because of its availability on Google's servers but said the company did “everything possible” to protect such data.
“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 U.S. law, that would be great. If we could be in some magical jurisdiction that everyone in the world trusted, that would be great …”