This week the guardian, my newspaper of choice, is running a week long series of articles under the theme “battle for the internet“. The reporting looks set to be interesting and is due to cover the following themes: “the militarisation of cyberspace”, “the new walled gardens”, “IP wars”, “civilising the web”, “open resistance”, and (doomladen prophecy) “the end of privacy”. Personally I find the terms “cyberspace/cyberwar/cyberjihad/cyberwhatever” a horrible americanisation, but unfortunately the labels seem to have gained some traction even here in the UK. Whatever, it is at least refreshing that a mainstream newspaper (the guardian is mainstream, right?) should be taking a look at the issues rather than leaving it to the specialist press.
Yesterday’s reporting though was a hoot. The paper led with a front page article reporting an interview with Sergey Brin. Brin is reported to have said:
“there are very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world”. and “I am more worried than I have been in the past, it’s scary.”
OK – I can see how there could be a number of possible threats to the continued existence of the sort of open and collaborative ‘net that I so admire. But the guardian article went on to say:
“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.”
“He said he was most concerned by the efforts of countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to censor and restrict use of the internet, but warned that the rise of Facebook and Apple, which have their own proprietary platforms and control access to their users, risked stifling innovation and balkanising the web.”
“There’s a lot to be lost,” he said. “For example, all the information in apps – that data is not crawlable by web crawlers. You can’t search it.””
So: along with restrictive regimes and an entertainment industry fighting to retain a lost business model, according to the world’s largest infringer of personal privacy, one of the biggest threats to the internet is the fact that apple and facebook won’t let google search the data they have gathered.
Is it just me? Or is this bonkers?