web freedomIn a new interview with The Guardian, Google co-founder Sergey Brin offers his warnings about the biggest threats to web freedom, and government legislation is just part of the story. Facebook and Apple are identified as big threats, too.

Government Threats

As you’d expect, Brin warns people that government interference in web freedom is already happening in countries around the world as governments realize how powerful tools like Twitter are in spreading messages, ramping up protests, and more. He references China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United Kingdom specifically in his interview with The Guardian and warns that there is even legislation being debated in the United States that could limit web freedom. It bears mentioning that Brin is credited as one of the key decision-makers in Google’s 2010 partial pullout in China brought on by censorship concerns.

Facebook and Apple Threats

Brin warns in his interview that threats to web freedom are coming from dominant players in the technology and internet industries, too. Companies like Facebook and Apple are putting up what Brin refers to as “restrictive walled gardens” that give those companies tight control over the software that can be released on their platforms. When companies have that high level of control over the access provided to their users, they become as guilty of hindering internet freedom as governments that enact specific laws meant to restrict those freedoms.

Of course, Brin positions Google as the opposite of Facebook and Apple painting it as a company that has always put web freedom first in its list of priorities. From the outside looking in, it’s safe to assume that many people would disagree with that claim. However, the general points that Brin makes are valid. Internet freedom is in jeopardy and we seem to be moving in the wrong direction with bills like SOPA and PIPA making headlines in recent months.

In simplest terms, no form of online content is safe from scrutiny as legislators and companies try to find the “right” way to control the global online conversation. The problem is that as far as web users are concerned, there is no “right” way to control the web. And that’s what really matters.

What do you think of the threats to web freedom? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Svilen Milev