Google: An open web helps keep the bastards honest
If we were cavemen and we came across a sabre tooth tiger, what would we do? Let’s hope we’d run.
We’d know to run if we possessed important information - big cats have big teeth. Cavemen who didn’t have that information wouldn’t have run and wouldn’t have propagated. Information is fundamental to survival and well-being.
Today we live in an incredible era of information. A quarter of the world is online. This number is growing quickly and the amount of information we consume is ballooning. The openness of the Internet gives extraordinary access to information and this is a powerful force for good.
The Internet has helped level the playing field of commerce and education, enabled the sharing of ideas and opinions, and kept companies and institutions accountable. In Australian vernacular, it helps keep the bastards honest.
With the rise of the free Internet and the extraordinary information it brings also comes misinformation. And there is misinformation everywhere - not just online, but in newspapers, in classrooms, in books and on TV. Some things your parents and friends tell you turn out to be wrong, some things are right; and you need to learn to know the difference. It’s a vital skill called critical thinking, which we all need to learn and teach our youth. People who are incapable of critical thinking may find themselves misinformed.
Wouldn’t you rather rely on your own resources and judgment than leave that job to others?
At Google, we value free expression. While we recognise that protecting the free exchange of ideas and information cannot be without some limits, we believe that more information generally means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual.
A recent global survey from the BBC found that many people around the world (including 85% of Australians) believe that Internet access should be a fundamental right. It would be a travesty if this openness was lost. But every day around the world, more and more governments are restricting access to information online. The trend is alarming.
The mandatory ISP filtering proposal is a threat to the open Internet. It could block access to important online information, could confer legitimacy upon censorship by other Governments, and robs Australians of the opportunity to make some vital choices in their lives.
Esther Dyson has the answer: The antidote for bad information is more information, not censorship.
Iarla Flynn is Head of Policy for Google Australia and NZ. Google outlines its deep concerns about the filter in this submission.
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