Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Co-Founder Sergey Brin came out in defense of freedom on the web in an interview with the Guardian today. The tech luminary is responsible for many of Google’s breakthroughs since the company’s inception and has stood by the cause of a free web since his rise to fame with the search giant.
Brin’s interview was almost apocalyptic in content as he described the internet as being under the greatest threat to its freedoms it had ever faced and listed the new threats building against the internet’s long held freedom.
Brin talks about China and Google’s relationship with the autocratic government of that country. Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) partially pulled out of the country in 2010 after a censorship battle with the Chinese government. Brin revealed that at that stage he believed that freedom on the internet would win in the battle though his belief in that has been shaken since.
Other problem’s facing the internet’s liberty, according to Brin, are private companies trying to battle piracy and companies with their own popular platforms, such as Facebook and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), setting up walled gardens where software is regulated.
Facebook and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s applications platforms are not searchable from the Web and that is a matter of concern for Google, which still garners most of its revenue from ads on the Web.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s complaints about its two main rivals, Facebook for control of the web and Apple on mobile devices, can be taken with a pinch of salt but Brin’s comments are still important as the internet continues to evolve and change.
Commentators have long talked about the way in which mobile apps are changing the way in which users experience the internet. Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s previous dominance of the web could be seen as a proxy for the internet’s freedom in Brin’s comments though that doesn’t mean his comments are wrong.
There is no questioning the fact that the internet is changing. As Brin stated the rise in closed applications has built an information asymmetry that wasn’t there before. Large company’s are building platforms and using them to control the flows of data and use them to their advantage.
That put alongside the control being attempted by both authoritarian and democratic governments in policing the internet is a stark reminder that the once ubiquitous liberty on the web is constantly under pressure from disparate groups. Those looking to protect that freedom need to be vigilant and should read Brin’s comments attentively.