London: Google co-founder Sergey Brin has accused social networking website Facebook and computer giant Apple of being the biggest threat to online freedom, even as he said that increased efforts by governments to control access and communication by their citizens also affect the internet.
Brin said 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.
He pointed out that the bid to suppress net access, along with the rise of the increasingly `restrictive` Facebook and Apple, are threatening freedom of information online.
Brin said increasing efforts by governments to control access and communication by their citizens also affect Internet freedom. "There are very powerful forces that have lined up against the open Internet on all sides and around the world. It`s scary," he added.
Attempts by the entertainment industry 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, were creating greater restrictions, said Brin.
He said he was concerned by efforts of countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to censor and restrict use of the Internet.
The 38-year-old said that he and Google co-founder Larry Page could not have created their search engine if the internet was dominated by Facebook. The increasingly closed nature of the web risked stifling future innovation, he said, with data stored on Facebook apps not searchable and inaccessible to entrepreneurs.
"Governments are realising the power of this medium to organise people and they are trying to clamp down across the world, not just in places like China and North Korea; we`re seeing bills in the United States, in Italy, all across the world," said Ricken Patel, co-founder of Aavaz, the 14-million strong activist network which has help train and equip Syrian activists.