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Sergey Brin clarifies his thoughts on web freedom

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has come out on the defensive, saying that his thoughts on internet freedom “got particularly distorted” following an interview with UK newspaper The Guardian.

In the interview Brin said that Facebook and Apple could potentially threaten web freedom with the “walled gardens” they build up around their products.

In a Google+ post, the renowned internet billionaire said that this did not mean he wasn’t a fan of the actual products:

I have much admiration for two of the companies we discussed — Apple and Facebook. I have always admired Apple’s products. In fact, I am writing this post on an Imac and using an Apple keyboard I have cherished for the past seven years. Likewise, Facebook has helped to connect hundreds of millions of people, has been a key tool for political expression and has been instrumental to the Arab Spring. Both have made key contributions to the free flow of information around the world.

Brin reckons that interfering governments pose a much bigger threat to web freedom:

Today, the primary threat by far to internet freedom is government filtering of political dissent. This has been far more effective than I ever imagined possible across a number of nations. In addition, other countries such as the US have come close to adopting very similar techniques in order to combat piracy and other vices. I believe these efforts have been misguided and dangerous.

He also warned that people should not “take the free and open internet for granted from government intervention”.

The Google co-founder elaborated on what he meant when he said Google would not have been able to stake the place it has on a web dominated by Facebook:

I became an entrepreneur during the 90’s, the boom time of what you might now call Web 1.0. Yahoo created a directory of all the sites they could find without asking anyone for permission. Ebay quickly became the largest auction company in the world without having to pay a portion of revenue to any ISP. Paypal became the most successful payment company and Amazon soared in e-commerce also without such tolls or any particular company’s permission.

Today, starting such a service would entail navigating a number of new tollbooths and gatekeepers.