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Sergey Brin Says Facebook, Apple and Gov't Biggest Threats To Internet Freedom 500

An anonymous reader writes "Google co-founder Sergey Brin has listed three threats to Internet freedom: Facebook, Apple, and governments that censor their citizens. Brin's comments were made to The Guardian: 'The threat to the freedom of the internet comes, he claims, from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry's attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of "restrictive" walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms.'"
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Sergey Brin Says Facebook, Apple and Gov't Biggest Threats To Internet Freedom

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  • Says the spy... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @07:41PM (#39696329)

    Google will probably be fine $25K for interfering with federal investigation on Google's invasion of privacy, even among nonusers of their services.

  • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @07:44PM (#39696355)

    If Sergey Brin is lamenting Apple's restrictive iOS platform as a threat to internet freedom, then why not get to the root cause of that restrictiveness, which is malware? Spam and malware is a huge reason why companies and developers don't adopt an "anything goes" approach.

    Also, I find it highly ironic that he would point to other companies facilitating censorship by various governments, but then doesn't mention Microsoft or Google itself, which largely went along with China's censorship in order to gain market share. Furthermore, it's not as if Google makes me feel more free in terms of the information I have access too. If anything, I am constantly worried about what information they have about me, who they might allow to see that information, and whether I'm leaving a data trail on their servers that the FBI can issue a subpoena for without my knowledge. Google's ubiquity and interconnectedness across all of its services poses a risk to internet freedom through its ramifications on user privacy.

    So in short, Mr. Brin, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

  • by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @07:55PM (#39696425)
    I think the threat is that the internet will cease to be a big place outside of a handful of walled gardens, or at the very least, it's very difficult to engage in certain activities without a Facebook account.
  • Re:glass houses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:00PM (#39696461)

    I don't think it counts as "collusion" if information is given over due to a court order.

    The question, as always, is what is done with the information collected. Google says in their privacy policy that they do not share personal information to third parties without explicit opt-in consent. Note that this is a stronger condition than just advertisers. So what exactly is the issue?

    I don't know about Facebook's policies.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:01PM (#39696469)

    If Sergey Brin is lamenting Apple's restrictive iOS platform as a threat to internet freedom, then why not get to the root cause of that restrictiveness, which is malware?

    Oh please, these apologies for Apple are getting tiresome. Apple did not lock down iOS to keep out malware, they did it so that they could remain in control of the products they sell people long after the sale is made. If this were about malware, why does Apple prevent apps that have absolutely no relation to malware from being in the app store? What the heck do political cartoons have to do with malware?

    The root cause is a complete lack of respect for users: a view that users are nothing more than exploitable sources of money that need to be controlled.

  • Re:Wait a minute! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:06PM (#39696507)

    Good point! Apple and Facebook are his competitors. But what's particularly interesting is that Microsoft did not even rate a mention. Maybe Google does not even consider Microsoft a competitor of note any more. Ballmer will be pissed. Great news for chair makers everywhere!

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:12PM (#39696533)

    Sure, I'm restricted if I'm using Facebook or Apple technologies, but there are literally thousands of places I can post and do whatever I want. The internet is a very big place.

    So you think it is good for Internet freedom if the network is divided into little islands of technologies controlled by one specific company or another? Nothing prevents Facebook from interoperating with other social networking or communications systems -- they even have their own Jabber implementation, that could easily exchange messages with other Jabber servers.

    The whole point of the Internet is that it is not fractured; another way to state this is that walled gardens are the antithesis of the Internet philosophy.

  • Re:Wait a minute! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by detritus. ( 46421 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:17PM (#39696561)

    Yeah. Pot, meet Kettle.
    Google just hired the former head of DARPA.
    "Don't trust anyone but us!"

  • by Xtifr ( 1323 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:20PM (#39696581) Homepage

    Sorry, but malware doesn't explain why the Apple Store bans GPL'd software. It's not a threat to users to have source available through other channels.

  • Re:glass houses (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:21PM (#39696599)

    Privacy and freedom are two different things.

  • Re:No shit sherlock (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mug funky ( 910186 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:25PM (#39696607)

    Microsoft is the only company I can think of that actually tried to monopolize the internet.

    better think a bit harder.

    every company wants the internet to themselves. Google was probably the first to really go for it, then Facebook try to make their own internet locked off from the prying eyes of search engines... who knows, maybe Pinterest and Twitter will ally and raise an army?

    the problem is - internet users own the internet. it's the 20th/21st century's ultimate gift to individual freedom. of course, you can't monetize the "free" in freedom, but many will try.

    as far as MS goes... you could always install whatever you liked on your machine. Apple is not following that business model. they started with iOS, and they're rapidly porting the walled garden to their desktops as well (as they become less relevant as tablets, phones, etc become the preferred browsing platforms).

    let's see how far you get installing Firefox, Opera or Chrome on an iPad. ...and just like with nations, our freedoms are being taken away under the guise of improved security.

  • Re:The FBI has guns (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:36PM (#39696667)

    In this case, guns would be better described as patents and lawsuits. Like apple's current round of lawsuits trying to claim patent on the rectangular screened device.

  • Re:No shit sherlock (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:41PM (#39696689)

    Correction, Apple pushes for locked standards (h.264 codec, anyone?). Pushing a standard isn't always inline with pushing towards a free and open internet if the standards require putting the implementors at the mercy of patent holders who may or may not choose to squeeze them for every dime they have.

  • Re:No shit sherlock (Score:3, Interesting)

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:49PM (#39696737) Homepage Journal

    If by "push for standards" you mean "lock in to proprietary iOS", then yes, Apples supports standards.

    If you're talking about their recent retreat on IPv6 support, then no, Apple does not support standards.

    Both Apple and Microsoft support standards when it suits their list of checklist customer requirements, and do their damndest to lock in their customer base once they've gotten sign-off on the initial deployment.

    Hell, even companies like IBM, Oracle, Sybase, et. al. try to lock people and companies in with proprietary extensions to "standards" like JEE and SQL by providing unique add-ons their competitors don't have. It's the nature of business to try to keep your customers.

    Some just play dirtier than others. And from what I see, Apple plays amongst the dirtiest of all, suing for "patent infringement" by competitors instead of negotiating patent agreements, while they try to lay claim to the most basic of user input metaphors that should never have been allowed to be patented in the first place.

    I mean, seriously, what is so creative about using a finger gesture to unlock a phone or tablet? What is so mind-bogglingly complex about "stroke up" that it deserves a patent? What's next -- claiming that finger gestures are somehow inherently different than mouse gestures?

    I better shut up now. I'm probably giving them ideas. :P

  • Re:Wait a minute! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @09:17PM (#39696885)

    Microsoft has, thus far, been relatively cooperative with Android. It did bring up patents, but not in an Oracle/Apple type "Trying to shut it down" sense, just trying to get royalties from hardware manufacturers.

    But Microsoft has actually produced a few software packages for Android, and shown no sign of wanting to shut it down. It's been a normal competitor from the point of view of competing products (such as Bing, Office Online, Office 365, etc) rather than a "Trying every dirty trick in the book" type thing.

    In short, Microsoft just isn't up there with Apple or Oracle.

  • Are you kidding me? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oizo ( 875964 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @09:40PM (#39696991)
    If Google is the Disneyland of the whole internet why the f*ck I cannot access google/groups without a google account?
  • by Fjandr ( 66656 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @10:15PM (#39697123) Homepage Journal

    A vote alone, without quantity to back it up, is worthless. The larger the system, the more the "accountability" you speak of is relegated to existence only in theory.

  • Re:No shit sherlock (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maccodemonkey ( 1438585 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @11:30PM (#39697459)

    While the original Apple products where hacker friendly, that certainly was not the case after Steve Jobs returned.

    I don't buy it.

    Apple before Steve Jobs. Fully closed source. Unfriendly and unstandard hardware.

    Apple after Steve Jobs. POSIX. Intel x86 hardware. OS X with about half the components open source and hosted by Apple. Bought and maintain CUPS, the printing system for both OS X and Linux (with Linux support still going strong.)

    After Steve Jobs, Apple went from a fully closed company to a half open, which is certainly more hacker friendly than it used to be. After Jobs, you could actually download and modify the kernel to OS X. Couldn't do that before Jobs.

    Heck, this was one of his first products after he returned:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW3TMPirrXs [youtube.com]

  • by abelb ( 1365345 ) on Monday April 16, 2012 @03:12AM (#39698223)
    I agree with Sergey. Facebook and other such sites represent the opposite of what the Internet was meant to be. Instead of creating an open facebook or twitter protocol for anyone to implement, they've closed it off and put a wall around their own little internet. Imagine the same was done in the early days; instead of SMTP we'd just have Hotmail. Instead of HTTP we'd have AOL. Eeeewww
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Monday April 16, 2012 @03:29AM (#39698287) Journal
    Just because 100 million others disagree with you doesn't mean the system isn't working properly. The 100 million could be wrong, but that's Democracy for you. It's a better system than in North Korea where the Dictator and his Generals are the only ones with "votes".

    Democracy sucks but it's better than the alternatives. You don't like how the 100 million are voting, you and others like you should try to convince/educate the 100 million.

    If you think all the candidates are bad, you can be a candidate. If you aren't able to be one then perhaps it really is true that the candidates are the best available. Unfortunately that's the real world. There are lots of decent qualified people who are not interested in being a candidate[1].

    If the voters are only voting for candidates that get the most money/bribes from corporations, then that's what the voters want. I don't think anyone is forcing them at gunpoint to vote that way.

    [1] FWIW "President of the USA" is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. 10% have died from job-related issues (aka people killing them). Try to find a more dangerous "legal" job. Everybody blames you for everything even if Congress etc stops you from getting most of what you want done.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.