THE CO-FOUNDER of Google is worried about rising opposition to internet freedom and has called out Facebook and Apple.
Sergey Brin, who is half of a double act with Google CEO Larry Page, spoke of his concerns in an interview with the Guardian newspaper where he moaned about governments and walled gardens and the competition.
"[There are] very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world," he said. "I am more worried than I have been in the past. It's scary."
These enemies of the open internet include Facebook, a company that he says contributes to the walled-garden internet and takes more than it gives.
"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," he said. He observed that if Google tried to enter the market now its path would be blocked.
He drew Apple into his criticisms too, and like Facebook he criticised it for having systems that are walled off from others. "There's a lot to be lost," he added. "For example, all the information in apps - that data is not crawlable by web crawlers. You can't search it."
The interview also wanders into the debate over 'piracy' and again Brin said that over-zealous and less open companies have caused a problem that does not need to exist.
"I haven't tried it for many years but when you go on a pirate website, you choose what you like; it downloads to the device of your choice and it will just work - and then when you have to jump through all these hoops [to buy legitimate content], the walls created are disincentives for people to buy."
As for Google, he said, it wants to be the internet's and its users' friend, and not their enemy. He said that as part of this Google resists requests from law enforcement authorities for cooperation as and when it can.
"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," he said.
"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." µ