At a conference in Dublin, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt took to the microphone with a warning that some countries are looking to regulate their citizens' access to the Internet the same way they regulate television and other media, according to a BBC report.
That danger is only exacerbated by the fact that Internet access in general and social tools like Twitter and Facebook in specific were very likely the root causes of the wide-spread revolts in Middle Eastern countries during the so-called "Arab Spring" of 2011.
And as people in countries all over the globe get more and more wired into the information superhighway, Schmidt said, content will become more and more localized and dissent will only grow. And thanks to the Arab Spring, fearful governments will move to clamp down harder on web access than ever before.
To wit, here's Schmidt on the trend towards censorship, as quoted by the BBC:
"The reason is that as the technology becomes more pervasive and as the citizenry becomes completely wired and the content gets localised [sic] to the language of the country, it becomes an issue like television. If you look at television in most of these countries, television is highly regulated because the leaders, partial dictators, half dictators or whatever you want to call them understand the power of television imagery to keep their citizenry in some bucket."
Moreover, Schmidt expressed fear for certain Google employees working in countries he preferred not to name out of concern for their safety. The kind of country that's willing to crack down hard on Internet freedoms, Schmidt says, is also increasingly likely to arrest and maybe even torture Google employees over content from the search engine that the government deems illegal.
The timing of Schmidt's frank discussion on web censorship is especially apropos given the results of the Google Transparency Report, which shows that the US is more likely than any other country to request user information.