One of the pioneers of the Web revolution is none-too-pleased with the current state of the Internet. Google co-founder Sergey Brin told The Guardian on Monday that “very powerful” and “restrictive” forces are threatening the open nature of the Internet, creating an environment that inherently stifles innovation.
Brin said that the lack of Web openness can be blamed on a mix of government censorship, intellectual property enforcement (particularly by the entertainment industry) and Google's Internet brethren – Apple and Facebook – two companies that control the data and software that run across their proprietary platforms.
“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.”
Brin believes that companies like Google would have little chance of coming into form in an environment dominated by the likes of Facebook, a company that goes out of its way to discourage and disable users from moving their data to other services.
While Brin's portrayal of the current state of the Web is rather accurate, his direct criticism of Facebook's data policies can easily be classified as hypocritical. Just a month ago, Google “tidied up” its own collection of separate privacy policies by combining them into a singular document. While doing so, the company also took steps to share information across all Google products, essentially tracking users as they move across the Internet.
The highly controversial move led to outcries of criticism from consumer interest groups and federal regulators, who encouraged Google to suspend the move and rework the policy. Google chose not to.
In addition, Brin failed to mention that Google's own burgeoning social network, Google+, follows a similar script as that of Facebook. Just try sharing all your Google+ contacts and data with a competing service. Google was also heavily criticized for including Google+ info in its search results, a move Business Insider called the “worst mistake in its history.”
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