Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Remember when the web was free?

Okay, it's still free now. But let's not look back on this time and wistfully remember when the web was free. Let's keep it free.

Consider the following statements by Sergey Brin, in The Guardian:
"Web freedom faces greatest threat ever, warns Google's Sergey Brin" by Ian Katz

"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."

I particularly agree with Brin's comments on the entertainment industry.

"He reserved his harshest words for the entertainment industry, which he said was 'shooting itself in the foot, or maybe worse than in the foot' by lobbying for legislation to block sites offering pirate material."

"He said the Sopa and Pipa bills championed by the film and music industries would have led to the US using the same technology and approach it criticised China and Iran for using. The entertainment industry failed to appreciate people would continue to download pirated content as long as it was easier to acquire and use than legitimately obtained material, he said."

The comments after the article are also very interesting. Does Brin make good points or is he just whining, trying to make more money?

Going back a few years, how about a similar article by an internet pioneer? From Scientific American:
"Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality" by Tim Berners-Lee

"The Web as we know it, however, is being threatened in different ways. Some of its most successful inhabitants have begun to chip away at its principles. Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments—totalitarian and democratic alike—are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights."

"Why should you care? Because the Web is yours. It is a public resource on which you, your business, your community and your government depend. The Web is also vital to democracy, a communications channel that makes possible a continuous worldwide conversation. The Web is now more critical to free speech than any other medium."