Google Founder: Facebook Threatens Web
Internet freedom is being threatened by the rise of Facebook and government attempts to control access, the co-founder of Google has warned.
In an interview with The Guardian, Sergey Brin said the principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are facing their greatest ever threat.
The 38-year-old billionaire blamed the rise of "restrictive" walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms.
Such curbs risked stifling innovation and Balkanising the web, he said.
Mr Brin's attack is likely to stoke controversy at a time when Facebook, currently experiencing explosive growth, is engaged in intense rivalry with Google.
The world's largest social networking site, which is expected to launch a £3bn initial public offering next month, recently raised the stakes in its battle with Google by purchasing the photo-sharing application Instagram.
Last year Google launched its own social networking website Google +, but so far it only has 90 million users, compared to Facebook's 800 million.
There is also agressive competition between Google and tech giant Apple, with Google's Android mobile phone software continually fighting against the iPhone for popularity in the hotly contested smartphone market.
In his interview with The Guardian, Mr Brin also criticised increasing efforts by governments to control access and communication by their citizens as well as attempts by the entertainment industry to crack down on piracy.
He is particularly concerned by the efforts of countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to censor and restrict use of the internet.
Mr Brin told the newspaper: "There are very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world.
"I am more worried than I have been in the past. It's scary."
Russian-born Mr Brin said he might not ever have been able to create Google under the current web constraints.
He founded the search engine in 1998 with Larry Page while they were both students at Stanford University.
Last week Google reported a 61% increase in revenues during the first quarter of 2012.
Mr Brin's comments came as Google prepared for a legal showdown with Oracle in San Francisco.
Oracle alleges that Google's Android software infringes on its Java patents and copyrights.
Both companies' chief executives, Larry Ellison for Oracle and Larry Page for Google, are set to take the stand in the trial, expected to last for eight weeks.
According to the witness list, Mr Page's testimony will include details about Google's business plan and marketing strategy for Android, including the search engine's recent acquisition of Motorola.
Google denies violating any patents, and says that Oracle cannot copyright certain parts of Java.
Oracle is seeking roughly $1bn (£631m) in copyright damages.