Government restrictions on the internet, curbing freedom of speech, was quite the hot topic recently, when the US government considered introducing two anti-piracy bills that incensed both the industry as well as the public and many websites, including Wikipedia, famously went off line in protest to the possible government strictures.
Of course, though the bill in particular, ACTA, was agreed upon, it has yet to be ratified by its signatories, but that doesn’t mean curbing freedom of speech only comes from the government or so Google co-foundersays.
Speaking to British newspaper The Guardian, Brin said that it wasn’t just governmental restrictions that should be a concern but also the rise of near monopolistic organizations like Facebook and Apple. In his interview, Brin referred to the internet and tech giant that are leaders in their respective fields as "walled gardens," saying that because of their increasing presence and dominance, the possibility of innovation is becoming increasingly restrictive. Speaking to The Guardian, Brin said, “There are very powerful forces that have lined up against the open Internet on all sides and around the world,” adding, “I am more worried than I have been in the past. It's scary.”
Brin was very particular about the effects of Apple and Facebook on the internet, categorically stating that had Facebook been around at the time when Brin and Larry Page started Google, they would not be able to launch their now singular search engine.
"You have to play by their rules, which are really restrictive. 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,” said Brin, as quoted by the same report of The Guardian.
The Google founder also commented on apps and the restrictions they impose, saying, "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."
Brin felt that because of government legislations like ACTA, SOPA and PIPA, and the aforementioned "walled gardens," the "openness" of the internet, something that he says was the founding ethos of the internet, was under threat.
Brin was particularly concerned about the way the government was aiming to clamp down on internet freedom. He said in this regard, "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.”
And responding to the question of privacy and user data protection, Brin said, “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."