When Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, warns that governments along with “Facebook and Apple-style ‘walled gardens” threaten web freedom we can only laugh our heads off. After all, the world’s number one search engine now tracks all users across all their services. There is no opt out clause here and as far as Google is concerned “it’s my way or the highway”. Indeed, we might take Brin’s concerns for web freedom a little bit more seriously if it were not for the fact that he himself acknowledges “that some people were anxious about the amount of their data that was now in the reach of US authorities because it sits on Google’s servers” and that “the company was periodically forced to hand over data and sometimes prevented by legal restrictions from even notifying users that it had done so.”
Unfortunately, this type of honesty from Mr Brin at least suggests further hypocrisy on his part. He was, after all, the driving force behind Google’s partial pullout from China over concerns about censorship and cyber-attacks. Of course, in considering the above, we might wonder exactly what Google’s mission in China was and why all of a sudden they could not work with the Chinese authorities? After all until March 2010, they did adhere to China’s internet censorship policies. Furthermore, and probably, more importantly, what exactly is Google’s relationship with the C.I.A. and the N.S.A.? Finally, even if a suitable answer could be found to all of those questions there still remains the accusation that the search engine’s news aggregator has blacklisted certain websites.
Sergey Brin’s credibility regarding his concerns for internet freedom is always going to be questionable and it might even be that his attacks on Apple and Facebook in particular are commercially motivated. Of course, if a cohesive and coherent argument had been built up, and backed with evidence to support Mr Brin’s hypothesis a different conclusion might have been possible. However, the ‘Guardian’s Ian Katz never attempts to do that. Indeed, it might even be pointed out that an article which finds it necessary mention that Mr Brin is a “38-year-old billionaire, whose family fled antisemitism in the Soviet Union,” is indicative of an article which, at best, struggles to be cohesive and, in fact, is sometimes incoherent, an article, which doesn’t represent journalism as it should be, but rather appears only intent on providing Mr Sergey Brin with a platform to pursue his own particular agenda.