Google co-founder Sergey Brin has warned against the growing number of restrictions on the Internet arising from governments’ attempts to control communications and censor populations in nations such as China.
Brin also took jabs at Google’s major rivals, Apple and Facebook, for the strict controls they exercise over platform applications and content, in comments made to The Guardian.
Brin is believed to be partly responsible Google’s pull out of China in 2010. Google had launched its search engine in China in 2006 and had censored search results for four years to comply with the government’s demands, but after the firm was the subject of a major hacking attack, the company decided to take a stance against Chinese authorities.
Brin said at the time that he had regretted Google’s decision to ever enter China, and also voiced his beliefs that no country would be able to restrict the Internet for long. However, Brin said he believes he has been proved wrong.
“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,” he said.
Brin pointed to the growing number of restrictions being placed on the Internet from regimes such as China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.
Meanwhile, Brin attacked Facebook’s proprietary principles, and said Google would never been created if the Internet had been dominated by Facebook.
“You have to play by their rules, which are really restrictive,” he said. “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 comments come as UK MPs call on Google to implement filtering technology to prevent users accessing material which could be subject to court orders or an injunction.
While Brin’s comments are likely to be welcomed by Internet freedom groups this week, they can also be deemed slightly hypocritical.
At the start of this year, Google’s new policy to prioritize Google+ updates at the expense of other social networking updates from the likes of Twitter was said to be bad news for the Internet, as the update would warp searches.
As AllThingsD put it:
Conflating Internet censorship and Google’s biggest competitors is a bit lazy, and it makes Brin seem wistful and out of touch. Has he looked around his own company lately and seen things like Search Plus Your World and Google Play? “Open” probably isn’t the best word to describe them. Brin can argue that the current environment wouldn’t have fostered the creation of Google, but we’ve come a long way on the Internet since the late ’90s. If the definition of “open” is “that which can be indexed and monetized by Google,” maybe we need a new word.
This article was originally published on V3.