Google's Sundar Pichai warns about threats to internet freedom

Changing laws pertaining to the internet are leading to different internets in different countries, he said in an interview.

Published: 13th July 2021 12:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th July 2021 12:28 PM   |  A+A-

File image of Sundar Pichai

Sundar Pichai. (File Photo | AFP)


NEW DELHI: Chief Executive Officer of Google Sundar Pichai has warned about threats to the free and open internet in several countries where the flow of information is being restricted.

In an interview with BBC on Monday, Google's boss said that "many countries are restricting the flow of information, and the model is often taken for granted." He also addressed controversies around tax, privacy, and data and argued that "artificial intelligence is more profound than fire, electricity or the internet."

Referring to different laws being followed in countries relating to online content which makes "different internets" for different countries,"... it is more a step back... I think a free and open internet is a tremendous force for good and we take it for granted a bit...," he said in response to a question about "different internets" - a reference to countries having increasingly disparate laws about online content and what kind is "offensive."

"In each country now there is a debate what speech is OK and what should be allowed... in some ways I think we pull back from the bigger picture (which is that) many countries around the world are restricting the flow of information and drawing much more rigid boundaries," he said during an exclusive interview to BBC at the Google headquarters at Silicon Valley in California.

Remembering his roots, Tamil Nadu-born CEO of both Google and its parent company Alphabet has said that India is deeply rooted in him and a big part of who he is.

"I'm an American citizen but India is deeply within me. So it's a big part of who I am," Pichai said.

He also urged "countries with strong democratic traditions and values" to stand up against the potential fragmenting of the internet while speaking to BBC.

Pichai's comment comes as social media platforms, news publishers, OTT websites and search engines (like Google) grapple with new laws introduced by the Indian government.


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