Sergey Brin criticizes China, Hollywood in interview on web freedom

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian UK, Google co-founder Sergey Brin criticized governments, companies, and industries for threatening free Internet activity. He called attention to China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other countries with restrictive Internet policies as threats to the open Web. He said,

[There are] very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world. I am more worried than I have been in the past. It's scary.

He added that he was wrong to have previously questioned the ability of the Chinese government to continue censoring the Internet. Even after the controversial scuffle with Chinese hacks into the company's email servers, Google continued operating in the country, saying that a user base as massive as that of China could not be restricted forever. However, the recent crackdown on microblogs may have proved Brin and other Google executives wrong, Brin admitted.

Brin also criticized Apple and Facebook for implementing restrictive measures for the services and the platforms they provide to users. He claimed issues like the difficulty in transferring Facebook data to other services were "balkanising the Internet." Brin also said that Google could not have been created had Facebook controlled the Web.

The Google exec also criticized entertainment companies for pushing for more restrictive copyright laws. He made an analogy to the content censorship of China and Iran to the lobbying of media corporations who also seek to make content restricted in the name of copyright infringement protection. As TorrentFreak puts it, "Instead of the entertainment industry beating up the little guys on the issue of piracy, in 2011 and early 2012 they went for the nuclear legislative option."

Pushing back on Brin's comments are commentators that have prodded into Google's interests in an open web. CNN also reported on Brin's interview with The Guardian, adding the fact that the targets of Brin's criticisms are the exact companies and the legislation that have challenged Google's expansion efforts in recent years. For example, Google's Search Engine cannot crawl any of Facebook's pages due to the latter's platform. The company also had to withdraw from the Chinese search market in 2010 after tough censorship laws made it impossible for the company to operate there.