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

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the everyone-but-me dept.

Facebook 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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Wait a minute! (5, Insightful)

readandburn (825014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696311)

Those just happen to be his competitors! What a crazy coincidence!

glass houses (5, Insightful)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696351)

i would add an additional item, and move it to the top of the list - companies that aim to track everything you do and aggregate that in one place. you could also add the gov't agencies that collude with them to track citizens. This would put FB and Goog tied at the top of the list. Not sure who is first, but they're both trying.

The FBI has guns (5, Insightful)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696405)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but a coercive monopoly with guns is far worse than a mere merchant with a huge market share.

Re:The FBI has guns (5, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696601)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but a coercive monopoly with guns is far worse than a mere merchant with a huge market share.

So when Apple starts selling the iGun, we should all be very afraid?

Re:The FBI has guns (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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:The FBI has guns (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696681)

In this case the gun would be better described as a 3m strong standing army with $3T+ worth of equipment.

Re:The FBI has guns (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696775)

Not really. I bet there's no place where you could plug in some bullets.

Re:The FBI has guns (-1, Flamebait)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696781)

> So when Apple starts selling the iGun, we should all be very afraid?

No, because it won't have a trigger. You'll have to launch the app, accept the EULA, acknowledge compliance with applicable laws, navigate to the 'shoot' screen, enter the unlock code, then drag & drop the 'fire' button onto the 'target' spot. And do it before the assailant with a much lower-tech Glock shoots you in the face.

Re:The FBI has guns (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696617)

Ah, but it's the merchant who hires those guns to protect and expand their markets (coercive monopolies). The relationship is very symbiotic. You need not fear one more than the other.

historically and logically wrong (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696795)

the monopoly is accountable to you through your vote. it is an extension of your will, not an imposition of an alien will on you

in fact, if you were to remove the monopoly, there would be no absence of monopoly, the merchant would merely fill the power vacuum, and he isn't accountable to you. he's accountable to the quest for more profits, at any cost, including the raping of your freedom. then he buys the guns and points them at you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinkerton_Government_Services,_Inc [wikipedia.org] .

Pinkerton's agents performed services ranging from security guarding to private military contracting work. At its height, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency employed more agents than there were members of the standing army of the United States of America, causing the state of Ohio to outlaw the agency due to fears it could be hired as a private army or militia.[citation needed] Pinkerton was the largest private law enforcement organization in the world at the height of its power.[2]
During the labor unrest of the late 19th century and early 20th century, businessmen hired the Pinkerton Agency to provide agents that would infiltrate unions, to supply guards to keep strikers and suspected unionists out of factories, and sometimes to recruit goon squads to intimidate workers. The best known such confrontation was the Homestead Strike of 1892, in which Pinkerton agents were called in to enforce the strikebreaking measures of Henry Clay Frick, acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie, who was abroad; the ensuing conflicts between Pinkerton agents and striking workers led to several deaths on both sides. The Pinkertons were also used as guards in coal, iron, and lumber disputes in Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as the Great Railroad Strike of 1877.

for the modern parable, see blackwater. what would blackwater become with no government already in place? the police, accountable to the corporation, not to you, which your real police department is

so your opinions and your views are illogical and historically wrong. they speak of a propagandized individual (corporate funded propaganda like fox news, the real threat to your freedom, not your government, which you VOTE for)

of course, where your government doesn't represent your will, it is because it is bought out by... corporate financial interests

heal YOUR government by removing the corporate infection, and understand the real threat to your freedom: the merchant you allude to

but make YOUR government your enemy, and see the corporate financial interests as harmless, and you are basically giving away your own hard won freedoms won by your forefathers (see pinkerton's above) to forces which have no interest in your freedoms at all, especially when your freedoms represent a threat to bottom line. then hiring goon sqwuads, with no government around to stop them, makes perfect capitalistic sense

there is your daily dose of anti-propaganda, i hope you aren't kneejerking too much right now

Re:historically and logically wrong (1, Informative)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696823)

the monopoly is accountable to you through your vote. it is an extension of your will, not an imposition of an alien will on you

Pull the other one.

in fact, if you were to remove the monopoly, there would be no absence of monopoly, the merchant would merely fill the power vacuum, and he isn't accountable to you. he's accountable to the quest for more profits, at any cost, including the raping of your freedom. then he buys the guns and points them at you:

Right. The FBI can never go bankrupt, and the monopolistic coercive government of which it is a part can certainly destroy the merchant at any time. See Lehman Bros and the old AT&T for just a few of many examples.

Go ahead. Pull the other one. You haven't made any sense yet.

Re:historically and logically wrong (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696875)

would this be the government that is owned by the corporations and only do their will?

or the government as it should be, in the constitution, the one that is accountable to you?

or is this the government that exists in the minds of paranoid schizophrenics, which is out to rape your freedoms in some bad hollywood plot of sinister conspiracies and aliens who hate your freedom.... just because?

small hint: agent smith in the matrix isn't real, and to use him as the starting point for understanding the purpose and atittude of a democratic government is delusional and absurd. being too trusting is bad. a pathological lack of trust is also bad. that you fear your OWN government, and not your real enemy, the ones who will gladly rape your freedoms, who BUY your government and have them do things against your freedoms, and will gladly point the guns at you (see pinkertons) and are most clearly not accountable to you... well, it simply reveals how propagandized and foolish you are

Re:historically and logically wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696863)

Blackwater would just turn into the Pinkerton Detective Agency?

Coincidentally as the laws they put in place to remove them from 'power' indicate, the government doesn't like the private sector competing with it in an efficient manner :D

Re:glass houses (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:glass houses (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696663)

Yep. And google respects users' wishes, unless they happen to use Safari or IE.

Or they happen to be using unencrypted wifi.

Or some oppressive government has a problem with the service Google provides and wants them to censor results.

Or it could maybe profit Google in some other way to circumvent their wishes.

But yeah, other than that... they're totally user-focused, and really go out of their way to give users what they want.

Re:glass houses (5, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696599)

Privacy and freedom are two different things.

Re:glass houses (5, Insightful)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696675)

"Without privacy, there is no freedom" ~Descartes

Re:glass houses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696725)

I totally agree with this. I'll trust Google the day they create products that we can use and that are not bound to their infrastructure. Products where we have the choice to select our own providers, or to be our own providers. Google may have noble ideals, but "Don't be evil" is not the same as "Do good".

Re:glass houses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696847)

How does one create a webservice that can be used without using that webservice's infrastructure? Web search as a piece of boxed software? How does a webservice provide a product where you can use it without also using it? Isn't the way to select a provider other than Google generally to use a provider other than Google?

Re:glass houses (2)

arekq (651007) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696895)

Chromium, Android...

Re:Wait a minute! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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!

Re:Wait a minute! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wait a minute! (3, Interesting)

detritus. (46421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696561)

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

Re:Wait a minute! (2)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696619)

I won't discard the possibility of business motivation.

On the other hand, this is absolutely an ad hominem argument; it says nothing about what is being said, only about who is doing the saying.

Re:Wait a minute! (1)

alcmaeon (684971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696653)

Yeah, he better not say that in Arizona, or he will end up in jail for internet trolling.

Re:Wait a minute! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696699)

Another way to look at it is that Google had to become a competitor to the two of them in order to preserve the open (to them) web that they depend on for their business.

Note that the threat listed in the Guardian article is actually

the rise of "restrictive" walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms.

Both Android and the current Google+ push are reactions to the growth of walled platforms. While they may earn Google some money on their own, they are really more of an enabler, just like Chrome.

No shit sherlock (0, Troll)

MpVpRb (1423381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696313)

Should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer.

Apple is worse than Microsoft ever was. And I am no fan of Microsoft.

Re:No shit sherlock (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696357)

It's good to know that Sergey posts here. Hi Sergey!

Re:No shit sherlock (0, Offtopic)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696495)

oh, hi anonymous "google must be evil" guy!

please go ahead and excuse everyone of A: being google fanbois
b: defending apple
c: calling us shills
d: detracting from the real concern here, which is the erosion of privacy.

but yeah, go ahead, keep it up!

Re:No shit sherlock (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696565)

i love apple as much as i love microsoft...

but point (d) applies as much to google as any of the foes sergey named (except governments - their cause is not as benign as money).

Re:No shit sherlock (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696375)

>> Should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer.

What, does intuitively mean listening to your gut? I guess you've gotta be pretty casual to observe it, then.

    >> Apple is worse than Microsoft ever was. And I am no fan of Microsoft.

Obviously you don't know much about Microsoft, especially the current stuff. And you seem to know too much about Apple, especially the disinformation campaign stuff, aka the Swift Boat version of Apple. Reality is much more flavorful, you should try it sometime.

Re:No shit sherlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696395)

Some hate my friend? In what is it worse than Microsoft?

But never mind, I'm sure people arguing with you will waste their time. Thickhead as you are, won't really understand.

Re:No shit sherlock (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696399)

Should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer.

Should be, but obviously it isn't. Plenty of voters hear "This bill is important to protect american jobs" and they support it. Even more people hear "We're preventing child porn" and support it. The people who want to gain control over the internet aren't taking those approaches because they believe those lines.

Re:No shit sherlock (3, Insightful)

willy_me (212994) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696439)

Apple is worse than Microsoft ever was. And I am no fan of Microsoft.

But worse at what? The article title mentions that it is in regards to "internet freedom". From this perspective there is no comparing Apple to Microsoft - Apple pushes for standards and Microsoft attempted to lock users to Internet Explorer based technologies. Remember the days before OSX and Firefox - one would constantly run into sites that required IE and Windows.

I'm not going to try to defend Apple with regards to other issues, but you really can't compare them to Microsoft wrt "internet freedom". Microsoft is the only company I can think of that actually tried to monopolize the internet.

Re:No shit sherlock (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696515)

apple and microsoft are flip sides of the same coin. both have supported censorship outright before changing their mind when it was a potential publicity disaster. [highdefdigest.com]

So I would indeed say that apple and microsoft are pretty much in the same boat entirely, yes.

Re:No shit sherlock (5, Insightful)

BZ (40346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696567)

Apple pushes for standards? No, not really. For example, they're the only browser maker that does not employ _anyone_ to work on CSS specs. Google, Microsoft, Opera, Mozilla all have employees doing so. Apple? Not so much.

Also, Apple is explicitly refusing to submit things like -webkit-text-size-adjust for standardization (they claim it's their "proprietary technology"),.

Oh, and the little bit about waiting until touch events were just about standardized in the W3C (without Apple's involvement, because they chose to not join the working group), then declare they have patents on the standard as written and they refuse to license them. Had they joined the working group, they would have had to disclose this much earlier in the
process, but it's in Apple's interest to have touch events working better in iOS than in web pages, so people create iOS-specific content and not HTML that works on all devices.

The result of all of which is that if you browse on a phone or tablet you constantly run into sites that require WebKit, and more often than not require Mobile Safari to render right.

Apple _does_ however try hard to make it _look_ like it's pushing for standards. I'll grant you that much. And it's not trying to monopolize the internet; just to slow down its development so it won't compete on a level playing field with iOS as an application delivery platform.

Re:No shit sherlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696821)

Mod this up.

Re:No shit sherlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696877)

Wow, some crazy apple fanbois must have shit themselves at this post and modded him down... Too bad since its accurate and what not.

The dumb shits will rule the world!

Re:No shit sherlock (5, Interesting)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:No shit sherlock (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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 (0, Flamebait)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696693)

It really comes down to the founders of the companies. Microsoft has taken on the personality of Bill Gates - lacks imagination, cares more about money than good products, etc. Apple has taken on the personality of Steve Jobs with a little bit of Woz thrown in - obsessive compulsive about solid products with good design, outwardly controlling but hacker friendly at heart. The reason Apple is kicking ass right now is because it does such a good job at constantly producing products that work well, look good, and don't change dramatically all the time. They may not have the highest specs at any given time but the user knows what to expect and that they can expect a pretty good device. When people say Apple is evil it just tells me they don't own any Apple products and know nothing of Apple's history. They're usually wannabe nerds that can barely use anything other than Windows and usually they think their awesome at Linux because they've managed to install the flavor of the month baby distro. They think hacking is taking a device that was expressly made for being hacked and following step by step directions. Probably they have absolutely no sense of taste either - they think their Dell Inspiron One is comparable to an iMac.

Re:No shit sherlock (3, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696737)

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

Only?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696825)

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

Only?

Uh, excuse me? Haven't you seen how Google has been pushing into just about every other business the internet? Mostly failing, but they're trying.

Or let's look at Apple, shall we? Their plan, viewed from afar, looks to me like they want to cut the internet out. Meaning, if you have Apple products, you'll be stuck in Apple land if they have their way.

And Facebook. The damage that I'm seeing being done on our society, its norms about privacy and worst of all, norms about government and employer spying on people chills me.

Microsoft during its peak never had that kind of power. Sorry, having their software products being shipped on 90% of computers is nothing compared to the damage on our society that Apple, Facebook, Google and governments will every do.

I'm beginning to think that "Freedom" in open source is going to have many more meanings in the future and don't be surprised if F/OSS starts becoming illegal.

Re:No shit sherlock (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696441)

Nice rosy colored glasses you got there.

You clearly don't remember the days when you could not buy a PC without paying for Windows. Or how hard it was to use a MS Office competitor.

Apple has TONS of competition. They make up only a small fraction of all markets their in. Yet you call them worse than Microsoft. Interesting.

Re:No shit sherlock (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696643)

ha?

i'm pretty sure you could buy the components and pop them all together. if the end result costs more, then what are you complaining about? just means MS are subsidizing, but you can always hit it with fdisk and save yourself some cash (and essentially get a copy of windows for negative bucks, to be used for whatever you wish).

i've never seen a day when you couldn't just buy hardware and install everything yourself... oh, wait, yes i have. you couldn't buy up mac bits and assemble a mac but install DOS on it.

Re:No shit sherlock (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696791)

I have built the last 4 PCs I have owned, and was not required to buy Windows at any point. Let's see you "build" an Apple from scratch. Let's also see you try to buy a Mac without OS X.

I can see Sergei's point (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696321)

But it seems to me he wants to freeze natural development of the market into something more friendly to his core business. I don't think doing so is in OUR best interest as WEB consumers.

Re:I can see Sergei's point (4, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696649)

Well - is "freezing the market" into a form where anyone cal play; where you don't have to be one of a half dozen giants to be a content generator, or to write software, really freezing it?

Or, to put it another way ... if you say that the market will remain open (for even the current limited definition of open), as opposed to "evolving" into a truly locked and controlled market, is this a bad thing?

Re:I can see Sergei's point (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696673)

OUR best interest as WEB consumers

This view of Internet users is part of the problem. You seem to think that the web or more generally the Internet is just a fancy version of cable TV, where consumers receive their entertainment from creators.

Re:I can see Sergei's point (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696805)

It turned into this. Didn't you notice?

Flip back 20 years and I'd agree with you. There were very few "pure" consumers. Most found it fascinating to be part of the producing and broadcasting crowd. To have a soapbox and to be heard. To say, do and create whatever you felt like.

We traded that for fake friends and fake farm products.

They have the potential to be a danger too... (4, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696327)

but, well, they could suck at it [xkcd.com]

Says the spy... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696329)

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

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696335)

kettle black, says pot.

Why not malware authors then? (5, Interesting)

wickerprints (1094741) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Why not malware authors then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696423)

Maybe he is lamenting Apple's desire to lock seal everyone inside its walled garden and then to throw away the key effectively killing the free internet and replacing it with a heavily censored and monitored Apple version. But then again....I am sure Google and Facebook would leap at the same given the chance.

Re:Why not malware authors then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696705)

And yet Safari on the iPhone was the first usable mobile web browser. And it's still the best one. Is he lamenting the lack of flash and java?

Re:Why not malware authors then? (3, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696453)

Sergey's not got malware top of mind these days. They banished Windows from their network years ago.

Re:Why not malware authors then? (1)

wickerprints (1094741) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696615)

Saying that Windows is the sole (or even primary) platform for malware is like saying Apple products aren't threatened by malware. Both are stereotypes founded in their respective grains of truth.

The increasing ubiquity of mobile devices means that the platforms they run on have become increasingly exposed to the consequences of malware, often with more severe consequences due to the nature of the information stored in those devices. And the problem isn't necessarily confined to authors of rogue applications, or even black hats in general. As we observed with the CarrierIQ incident, mobile device carriers also bear responsibility for maintaining transparency and not installing software that poses a security or privacy threat. This is something that, despite Android's claims to be an open platform and thus superior to iOS, was allowed to happen without the consent of Android consumers.

Sergey Brin may be technically correct about the broad nature of threats to internet freedom, but I think that his is a straw man argument. "Freedom" means nothing without the proper context in which that freedom is exercised. That is to say, what good is your freedom to access and share information if those transactions are actively monitored, compiled, and analyzed in order to profile you? His vision of "freedom" basically boils down to the notion that you're free to do what you please online so long as Google is there to profit off of facilitating and observing your activities. That's why he cares about your freedom--because when you're allowed to leave that data trail on Google's servers, they get to find out more about you so that other entities (i.e. advertisers) can be "free" to pay Google for that data so they can sell you stuff. His motives are not altruistic--it's not about freedom of information for its own sake, but rather, freedom of a type of activity that is entrusted to Google for the purpose of profit.

Re:Why not malware authors then? (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:Why not malware authors then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696531)

'The root cause is a complete lack of respect for users'

Some bullshit.

Re:Why not malware authors then? (5, Insightful)

wickerprints (1094741) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696493)

Spelling error correction: "...information I have access to," not "too."

Also, some context: I think it goes without saying that I do not use Facebook. I've gone so far as to block all their domains in my hosts file, not to mention put email filters on anything that even mentions it, so I don't get invites. I absolutely despise it, not to mention Zuckerberg's holier-than-thou attitude (e.g., "don't put it online if you want to keep it private"). I'm also no fan of Apple--while I like some of their products, it's mainly because it's not Microsoft or Google.

The problem I have is that nobody's hands are clean. I would summarize various companies thusly:

Microsoft: We became the only game in town because we bought out or threatened everybody else, but we've become bloated and hobbled by our own incompetence.
Google: We'll talk your ear off about freedom and pledge to "do no evil," but underneath it all we're really just like everyone else, hellbent on world domination--but for your own good, of course!
Apple: We want to deliver you the best user experience...on the backs of Chinese factory workers. And we know what you want better than you do, because we tell you what you want.
Facebook: We exploit you and give you a half-hearted apology afterward.
EA: We keep raping you because for some reason, you keep coming back.
Yahoo: What just happened?

When the biggest tech companies all act this way, is it any surprise that there's going to be finger-pointing and mudslinging? Fact is, nobody looks good because each is amorally driven by one goal above all else: profit, rather than ethics. And then they go about rationalizing that the pursuit of such profit and power is so that they can then be ethical, when in all cases, the exact opposite has occurred--companies become LESS ethical the more powerful they get.

Re:Why not malware authors then? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696523)

spam and malware are a threat to internet freedom?

uh, no. Nice premise but short on reality or anything to show for your idea here which doesnt' exist. way to strawman though.

SPAM and Malware are a threat (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696687)

In case you have not been paying attention, there are players that have come up with "solutions"(some of the legal variety), to "manage" the problems (spam and malware) that they allowed to get out of hand in the first place.

Link [infowars.com]

Link [internetnews.com]

Re:Why not malware authors then? (1, Interesting)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696581)

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:Why not malware authors then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696711)

Sorry, but malware doesn't explain why the Apple Store bans GPL'd software.

The Apple Store doesn't ban GPL software.

Re:Why not malware authors then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696585)

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.

You can find out what information Google has about you in two places:
http://www.google.com/ads/preferences - aggregate of information collected about your Doubleclick cookie, including opt-out.
https://www.google.com/dashboard - Information about your Google Account.

The reason why you need two links instead of one is because, as per Google's privacy policy, information about your Doubleclick cookie will never be combined with information from your Google account. Speaking of which, their privacy policy might also help your other concerns, as they explain the rules under which they will give out information. If it isn't for a legal request (which they publish information about here: http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/), then it requires your explicit opt-in consent for personal information to ever be shared with a third party.

Re:Why not malware authors then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696609)

Ever owned a Google Search Appliance? They cost a lot more, are at least as locked down as iOS, aren't especially at risk from malware, and the customer service is horrible (you can't upgrade your license after your warranty runs out.. you have to buy an entire new appliance).

Re:Why not malware authors then? (5, Insightful)

jonnat (1168035) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696665)

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?

Believing that malware is the reason why Apple chose a walled-garden model for its app store requires the same degree of naivete needed to believe that child pornography is the reason why governments want to control your communications.

Re:Why not malware authors then? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696671)

Another HUGE reason the iOS walled garden exists is due to its users.

Most want things to 'just work' and be easily to access. They don't want to know why something works, just that its there, its pretty and works when they hit the button. this is the age of shiny object consumerism, like it or not.

Controlling the system is part of providing this to the average user. The percentage of customers people that want 'freedom' are so small, its not worth worrying about for Apple.

Sure it sux to be one of that small percent that care, but without the large percent that drives the business, we wouldn't even have the device to complain about.

Governments maybe, but the other two? (5, Insightful)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696359)

Seriously, how are Facebook and Apple threatening the freedom of the internet? 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.

Also, the other day I tried to sign up for a second Google+ account but it didn't like the names I was choosing because it didn't consider them "real" names. Seems a bit rich to be accusing others of limiting freedom.

Re:Governments maybe, but the other two? (4, Interesting)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:Governments maybe, but the other two? (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

He is of course correct (1, Insightful)

phamNewan (689644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696377)

He is very specific about which countries are working hard to control the flow of information. China and Iran are well known for their desire to control all information. Russia is nothing new in this regard either.

I would not hate Apple if they were not the control freaks that they are. If you deal with Apple in anyway, they own you. iTunes is exactly the type of control over the users that China and Iran want over their citizens.

Keeping the Internet open is critical for many reasons. Google has been made better by the competition it has faced relentlessly over the years. Google+ is better than Facebook because they have had to innovate relentlessly. Android is getting better because they have to keep making it better because of the competition that exists.

If Apple and Facebook had their way, there would be no competition. Three cheers for Brin.

The only thing missing from that list is Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696391)

Google, Apple, Facebook...but #1 is government ... although you have to qualify that by defining who the US Government is working for that week. Could be anyone, cable interest, wireless, mpaa...the list goes on. There is only one group you can be sure the US Government isn't working for and that is, "we, the people".

So why doesn't he do anything about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696393)

With all of his money and the recent changes to campaign finance, he could have bankrolled a pro-internet freedom presidential candidate plus many candidates for lower offices.

Why hasn't he?

Definition of irony (4, Insightful)

JonathanF (532591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696403)

The irony: this comes from a company that wants to know everything about you and shifted its entire strategy to compete with Facebook. A company currently facing DOJ and EU antitrust investigations. A company that just got fined $25,000 for obstructing an FCC investigation into Street View cars' Wi-Fi accidentally scraping personal messages and website visits.

Not to mention that Android is officially endorsed by the Chinese government as its mobile platform of choice (customized as Open Mobile System). You know, the government that has political opposition jailed, censors the Internet, and spies on its citizens in a way that makes the NSA look modest.

Look, Sergey, there are advantages to an open platform, but you're as much of a threat as the others.

Re:Definition of irony (5, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696521)

Not to mention that Android is officially endorsed by the Chinese government as its mobile platform of choice (customized as Open Mobile System). You know, the government that has political opposition jailed, censors the Internet, and spies on its citizens in a way that makes the NSA look modest.

You had a reasonable post, and then you crashed it with a big, ugly association fallacy.

China chooses Android because it's OSS, meaning they can change it to their liking, just like they did with Red Flag Linux. Claiming Google is a threat because of that is ridiculous. Is Torvalds evil too? China uses his kernel!

Re:Definition of irony (4, Insightful)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696589)

Ah, this article is about freedom (open platforms) and not privacy. The two are not the same thing. Apple and Facebook are certainly threats to freedom (in the sense of open platforms), but both Google and Facebook are threats to privacy.

Interesting (2)

cffrost (885375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696411)

This is unexpected. I have to wonder if this is an effort to deflect scrutiny from his own outfit.

Typical CEO's view of reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696427)

A "threat to freedom" is any policy that presents a continuing obstacle to his company's business plan.

What about Google collecting, archiving, indexing, data mining, and monetizing clickstream/email/transaction/call log/video surveillance data on every single user of the Internet? *That* is no Big Brother in action? No, that's improving people's lives by figuring out which "Ben Smith" your email refers to so his blog and linkedin profile will appear at the top of your search hits. So that's what the Google policy changes were about! Thanks guys.

Out of context (5, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696451)

The summary is a summary of a ZDnet summation of a Guardian article.

If you actually read the Guardian article, the three things Brin lists as threats are:

  • Government control
  • Piracy crackdown
  • Walled-garden platforms

He gives Apple and Facebook as examples of the third. Which the sensationalist media (including slashdot) twist around to try and incite a frenzy of condemnation.

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.

Re:Out of context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696869)

One of these things is not like the others.

Government control affects everyone. Measures designed to crack down on piracy affect everyone. If the RIAA demands my ISP monitor my web usage, I can't opt out of it.

On the other hand, nobody ever held a gun to my head and forced me to buy an iPad or open a Facebook account. It's still perfectly possible - indeed, common - to use the internet without either of those things. Walled gardens are opt-in. To call them a threat to freedom is like saying that the existence of - well, walled gardens - is a threat to freedom.

I don't understand... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696457)

What does Apple's restrictions on their app store have to do with internet freedom?

Re:I don't understand... (5, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696577)

This, perhaps:

http://comments.gmane.org/gmane.network.tor.devel/1099 [gmane.org]

One of the replies points to the non-technical problem with Tor on iOS, which is that Apple rejected it from the App Store as being a "proxy or circumvention tool." This is not terribly surprising, of course: Apple would not want to anger governments by shipping a platform that allows iOS users to evade national firewalls.

Re:I don't understand... (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696605)

If you control the clients, it doesn't matter what server feeds exist.

It's just client based control, as opposed to what we're used to in the way of censorship, which tends to be from the server side.

Google IS an NSA project. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696485)

Yes, folks, truth really IS stranger than fiction.

Now if you will excuse me I have a conference call I have to take,
with Ken Lay and Steve Fossett ...

Threats to Internet Freedom (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696499)

Top 3:
- Facebook
- Apple
- Government

Top 4:
- Facebook
- Apple
- Government
- Google

What Sergey Brin really said .. (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696627)

"The threat to the freedom of the internet comes, he claims, from a combination of (1) governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, (2) the entertainment industry's attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of "restrictive" walled gardens such as (3) Facebook and (4) Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms". link [guardian.co.uk]

And... (1)

webbiedave (1631473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696631)

The race for control of the seven kingdoms begins!

Nothing to worry about (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696641)

As long as there are people who can and will create a way to work round these threats, everything will be just fine.

The days are numbered (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696645)

For what we consider 'the internet', a 'gateway' to unfettered free communication. It will be converted into a heavily restricted, monitored, and regulated, commercial content distribution system at some point. Just a matter of time.

"marketing" has destroyed most everything that they have touched: TV, radio, magazines, even simply driving down the road. There is no reason to think they wont destroy this too. And then you have the government that is scared to death.

There will be some hard core holdouts for freedom, but for the masses, its slipping away.

There was a 2010 Google talk on "privacy" (2)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696677)

"Avoiding the Privacy Apocalypse"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSYXw87BWXo [youtube.com]
Learn how Clinton era laws opened world wide telco interception as US firms wanted a level export price with the EU equipment makers.
Why should one side have to add expensive backdoors and deal with all the short term upgrade costs?
Learn how individual French school children where to be tracked and profiled by the state and what the UK wanted to do with every IM, email in real time.
The govs saw what keyword ad tracking by privacy loving US .coms could do with every word submitted -
they expected the same access.
The video is just a talk, no Q and A at the end ;)

No mention of Facebook support of CISPA? (2)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696679)

Sergey Brin has listed three threats to Internet freedom: Facebook, Apple,

...and no mention made at all of Facebook's recent scary support of the SOPA-heir: CISPA [google.com] ? Why wouldn't google want to tar Facebook with that one? ...might it be that google likes CISPA?

I don't have a Facebook account anymore. (4, Insightful)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696685)

Why do you still have yours?
I also don't own any Apple products, and have no plans to buy any in the future, either; I don't recommend anyone buy those, either.

I'd like to remind everyone that you don't need any of these things in your life in order to have a happy, productive life, and in my opinion you're more likely to have a happy, productive life if you don't have them. While you're at it, stop wasting money on cable and satellite TV, and smartphones and the overpriced data plans that they come with, too. Read more books, interact with more people in person, and go outside more often and move your bodies around. I can almost guarantee that these things will make your healthier and happier than what they're replacing.

Re:I don't have a Facebook account anymore. (1)

Corson (746347) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696757)

Thumbs up.

You're not of the body? (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696765)

You will be absorbed. Your individuality will merge into the unity of good!

Facebook is true evil, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39696745)

Confusing (3, Insightful)

Corson (746347) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696751)

Aside from throwing mud at Google's competitors, he is deliberately mistaking Web for Web Search. A library is the books in it, not the book index, and some of the books are in the "restricted" area. So what?

They want it to be like television (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39696853)

Walled Gardens or "channels" each with specific content heavily protected and of course crack down on the discussions going on over the net blogs and forums.

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