“Web freedom faces greatest threat ever, warns Google’s Sergey Brin,” a Guardian headline pronounced Sunday, suggesting the Internet has come to an important crossroads.
There are “very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world,” Google co-founder Brin told the Guardian in an exclusive interview.
What are these forces? There are three, Brin said: governments trying to control what their citizens have access to and how they communicate, the entertainment industry trying to clamp down on piracy, and a growing number of “restrictive” walled gardens, which control the software that can be used on their platforms.
“I am more worried than I have been in the past…It’s scary,” he told the Guardian.
It is understandable that those at Google have cause for concern. The online giant’s top competitor – Facebook – is enormous. According to its official website, we know the social network accounted for one in four page views in the U.S. weekly, which is nearly four times the views of YouTube, and five times the page views of Google.
Google has several access points to the web including a search engine, a Web browser and a Web-based operating system, whereas Facebook is a platform on its own, the STATE of SEARCH noted when comparing the two web players.
Facebook integrates into existing services, while Google is busy “connecting its own services and trying to develop ‘better services,'” SoS explained. The question has become whether Facebook is “luring the users to Facebook or is Facebook coming to users outside of Facebook.com,” the article noted.
Brin expressed his frustration to the Guardian: “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.”
Brin’s dissatisfaction was not bought by everybody.
“Google playing the open and free card is highly cynical. Google’s view is that it’s great to be open as long as you are logged into a Google account where your web browsing behavior is efficiently tracked under one login and password, for the benefit of their advertising business,” one netizen named “Nortonfulgate” pointed out in the comments section.
And Google’s belief in freedom is also tainted with a recent government investigation into its using Google Maps cars to sweep up sensitive personal information from wireless home networks while mapping streets.