5 comments from Google's CEO on privacy

Schmidt may be sinking the company into hot water with his words

By , Computerworld |  Security, Eric Schmidt, Google

  • "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place," Schmidt said during an interview on CNBC in December 2009.
  • "We know where you are... with your permission. We know where you've been with your permission. We can more or less guess what you're thinking about," he said earlier this month, speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum and cited by The Atlantic.
  • "There is what I call the creepy line. The Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it," Schmidt is quoted as saying by The Hill Web site last month during an event at the Newseum in Washington.
  • "I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions," he said. "They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next," he said, adding that at some point young adults will change their names so they can hide from youthful hijinks stored on social networks. He made the comments during an August interview with the Wall Street Journal.
  • "In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it," Schmidt said at the Techonomy conference in April , according to a ReadWriteWeb blog by Marshall Kirkpatrick.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said making one odd statement after another about users' privacy is not doing the company any favors.

"I swear we could likely do an entire situation comedy featuring Eric Schmidt titled "Stupid S*** Google's CEO Said," Enderle said. "I actually think he is a bigger problem [than Street View] because he crosses over issues and makes them worse... I think Schmidt outlived his usefulness to Google some time ago and it is time to bring someone onboard who can solve problems rather than make them worse."

Olds agreed that Schmidt's repeated statements give the image that he doesn't care about users' privacy.

"Schmidt's statements don't seem to give user privacy concerns much, if any, credence," he added. "He basically seems to be saying, "This is the way things are. Too bad. We'll do what we want. Get used to it." To many users, that's both an insult and a challenge."

Olds noted that these kinds of statements could prick up the ears of various regulators and make them take a closer look at how Google is operating.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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