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Google Privacy Your Rights Online

Google CEO Says Privacy Worries Are For Wrongdoers 671

Posted by kdawson
from the get-over-it dept.
bonch writes "In a surprising statement to CNBC, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told reporter Maria Bartiromo, 'If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.' This will only fuel concerns about Google's behavior as it becomes an ever more powerful gatekeeper of information; though Google says it is aware of these concerns and has taken steps to be transparent to users about the information that is stored."
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Google CEO Says Privacy Worries Are For Wrongdoers

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  • Don't be evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by awyeah (70462) * on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:17AM (#30364082)

    With that attitude, I guess Google will have to start worrying about privacy!

    • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:5, Informative)

      by hitmark (640295) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:42AM (#30364338) Journal

      sadly, the guy that introduced the "don't be evil" slogan, is long gone from the company...

      and with how things are going with android and similar, that's noticeable...

      • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrNaz (730548) * on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:32AM (#30364882) Homepage

        I don't get Google fanboyism. I really don't. Every time something like this happens, we get some idiots who are in love with Google the way geeks loved Microsoft in the early days when they were the little guys taking down Big Nasty IBM making up some absurd reason why what they are doing is just fine and that Google couldn't *possibly* do anything wrong, because, after all, their corporate slogan proves it.

        Google hasn't been a friendly garage company for years now, they are a Big Nasty Megacorp looking to squeeze every ounce of value from us they can, and their method of doing that is even more invasive than Microsoft's.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Daengbo (523424)

          There have been maybe ten stories about Google becoming "the evil empire" in the last week or so. It seems to be a running theme right now.

          Still, Google keeps introducing interesting new technologies based on open standards, open sourcing them, and making data export easy (just look at the new "dowload all" button on GDocs)[ 1 [dataliberation.org]]. Heck, Wave is open source and federated. This doesn't even begin to cover the help they give FOSS through GSoC.

          Once Google stops being open and starts trying to lock me into their se

          • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Jesus_666 (702802) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:18AM (#30365530)
            "Nice" and "evil" are not mutually exclusive. Google can very well donate lots of code to OSS project and rape our privacy at the same time. And, quite serious, what Schmidt said there is virtually equivalent to "only criminals need privacy".

            I oppose blanket surveillance, whether by a government or by a corporation. If Google is of the opinion that I shouldn't have a right to privacy then Google is evil. Simple as that.
          • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:21AM (#30365586)

            "Once Google stops being open and starts trying to lock me into their services, then I'll be worried"

            We hear this all the time. By that logic, Microsoft doesn't force you to use Windows, therefore they are not evil.

            Google's money that they pay into GSoC pales in comparison to their revenue. It wouldn't even be a rounding error. Furthermore, it's a tax break (they set up a charitable fund for this purpose) and the money put into it is considered marketing expenses. It's not altruism, it's just creative marketing.

            Google's whole strategy is setting up a Google-centric infrastructure that you depend on for email, social networking, business interaction and just about everything else. They want to *be* your Internet, and they are spending enormous amounts of cash building themselves to be your One Unified Service.

            Ensuring that geeks love them by giving candy to the FOSS movement and acting all David-y to Microsoft's Goliath is necessary for that strategy. It's got *nothing* to do with philanthropy, and you're naive if you don't see it. Google is a company, and company's don't give away free things. TANSTAAFL. When will you learn?

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by mweather (1089505)

              We hear this all the time. By that logic, Microsoft doesn't force you to use Windows, therefore they are not evil.

              But they do prevent OEMS from installing other OSes, that is unless they want to pay retail for their Windows licenses.

            • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Tellarin (444097) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:52PM (#30366880) Homepage Journal

              Google's money that they pay into GSoC pales in comparison to their revenue. It wouldn't even be a rounding error. Furthermore, it's a tax break (they set up a charitable fund for this purpose) and the money put into it is considered marketing expenses. It's not altruism, it's just creative marketing.

              Any kind of altruism, unless truly anonymous, is marketing, or egoism (or both).

          • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by spyrochaete (707033) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:39AM (#30365836) Homepage Journal

            People keep screaming "evil," but I'm just not seeing it. They're being "nicer" than any other multi-billion corp I can name.

            You don't even see it after this direct quote from the CEO? He's effectively saying that privacy is immoral, and private people are shameful.

            Sure Google occasionally releases open code, but code is a means to an end, and on the web that end is for the common man to publish anything he wishes. What's the point of open code if you have to use it the way Google mandates?

            It reminds me of an old Peanuts comic I once read. Lucy is running a root beer stand with a sign that says "all you can drink for $1". Charlie Brown walks up to her stand and gives her a dollar, and Lucy gives him a tiny cup of root beer. When Charlie Brown inquires about the sign Lucy tells him "It's not false advertising - that's all you can drink for $1".

        • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:31AM (#30365724) Homepage

          I will accept that I have occasionally verged onto Google fandom, and that it can somewhat blind me to the dangers that Google can present. But I can explain why it has such appeal for many of us:

          1. A deeply intellectual corporate cultural, with 70% of its workforce having PhDs (I don't know if this is still true.) This includes the "20%" concept, whereby all Google staff is given free-reign to research what interests them 1 day out of 5. Google, to me, recalls the days of business-as-research-endeavor, the era of Xerox Parc and Bell Labs and the intellectual energy they represented.

          2. A friendliness to open source unmatched by any other major company.

          3. A very open ecosystem, with freely available APIs. And, an absence of pretense that the ecosystem is closed or finished. I rather like that Google is in "perpetual beta" (though it can get frustrating, especially when they abandon a project.)

          4. Lots of free stuff to play with. Unlike Apple, you don't need to be a well-heeled consumer to play pretty much in all parts of the Google "playground."

          5. The sense that they are moving the functions of the library into the 21st century.

          Nonetheless, you are right. They are gatekeepers for much of the world's information at this point. We need to be more skeptical and hold Google accountable for the considerable power they now possess.

          • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Eil (82413) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @06:43PM (#30371528) Homepage Journal

            I'm very happy that Google is one of the most open source friendly, but most of their major open source work is relatively recent. Sketchup, Picasa, and Google Earth are all applications that would have gained serious traction had Google opened up the code and let volunteers port them to different platforms and improve the code. They are also the biggest single user of the Linux kernel but have contributed very little back to the mainline tree. (Admittedly, they actually want to now, but Google's kernel bears little resemblance to the mainline kernel at this point, so it's not really practical on a technical level. But it would have been a lot easier if they contributed their changes from the start.)

            1. A deeply intellectual corporate cultural, with 70% of its workforce having PhDs (I don't know if this is still true.)

            Pretty sure it's not. Google's business is advertising and almost all of their branch offices scattered around the world are filled with staff that support mainly that aspect of their business.

            This includes the "20%" concept, whereby all Google staff is given free-reign to research what interests them 1 day out of 5.

            Last I heard, "20% time" applied only to their engineers, the PhD types. And they're not given free reign, the projects have to have merit and get approved. The project has to have the potential to benefit the company somehow, even if indirectly.

            5. The sense that they are moving the functions of the library into the 21st century.

            Except that they tried to do this by force. I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for the publishing industry, but Google basically planned from the start to infringe on the copyright of almost every author/publisher with a book in the library and then negotiate forgiveness (in the form of an exclusive contract) later.

            We need to be more skeptical and hold Google accountable for the considerable power they now possess.

            Remember a decade ago when clueless users thought AOL was the Internet? Although it won't surprise me, I'm hoping that we never get to the point where people think Google is the Internet.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bberens (965711)

          I don't get Google fanboyism. I really don't. Every time something like this happens...

          What exactly has happened?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        There is obviously a missing knowledge of human behavior here. People have an expectation of some level of privacy that is related to being modest (ie. clothing). When this is violated, a sense of mistrust ensues and this is what will harm Google if they are not careful.
    • Google=no privacy (Score:5, Informative)

      by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:47AM (#30364388)

      Google and privacy. You might want to check out this [cnet.com], this [uneasysilence.com], this [gcn.com], or this [google-watch.org]. People also forget that the majority of the world population is not living in the USA. US agencies are allowed to spy on non-US citizens as they like, although this is usually not emphasized for diplomatic reasons. Thus, not only terrorists and wrongdoers should be concerned about their privacy...unless Schmidt thinks that all non-US citizens are terrorists. Foreign governments should actually be much more concerned about Google than they seem to be, but as far as I know only former French president Chirac was concerned about Google and as a politician he turned out to be a wrongdoer [odt.co.nz], of course. LOL

      You can make scroogle [scroogle.org] your search engine of choice although we all know that it helps less than some people might expect, because normally configured browsers leak a lot of information.

    • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shin-LaC (1333529) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:55AM (#30364466)
      Maybe Google's real goal is building a worldwide panopticon.
    • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ByOhTek (1181381) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:11AM (#30364626) Journal

      Seems true enough these days.

      Although I'd rather counter their logic with:

      I don't want my girlfriend to know I'm buying her a nice set of ear rings for Christmas. I guess I shouldn't be doing it then...

  • Context? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:17AM (#30364084) Journal
    First he starts with

    Well, I think judgment matters.

    Then we get a voice over and a cutaway. Then the snippet in question is suspiciously selected with nothing preceding it. That's his direct quote and it was stupid to say 'maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place' but what was said before it seems to be edited. If the context is search engines (which I think it is), then what he says is true. As in 'if you're looking for ways to murder your husband, maybe you shouldn't be using the Google Search engine to find that information in the first place.' Here's what follows the inflammatory statement:

    But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines--including Google--do retain this information for some time ... um ... and it's important--for example that we are all subject to the United States Patriot Act--it is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities.

    I don't want to sound like a fanboy bending over backwards to absolve Schmidt but I want to point out that the important message people should take away from this is simply that your searches are not private. Your searches leave the premises of your private property. They go to a semi-public resting place where--under the Patriot Act--the government has the ability to access them with little commotion.

    I mean, if you enjoy doing something illegal like smoking weed, don't do it in public. You shouldn't be doing it in public in the first place. Do it in the privacy of your own home. If you go to a cafe or place of business and smoke weed, the owner and workers at that cafe might be obligated to call the authorities. Similarly if you're buying weed, don't use the Google search engine to do it.

    I would like to hear his whole unedited statement.

    • Re:Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:24AM (#30364142) Homepage
      Darn straight. You shouldn't commit vile, illegal, immoral crimes, like Googling for Free Tibet from inside China, and then expect Google to give a damn about what happens to you.
      • Re:Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Critical Facilities (850111) * on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:32AM (#30364248) Homepage
        To be fair, doesn't that fundamentally have more to do with the Chinese government than it does Google? I'm sure there are those who feel that Google should be willing to "stand up" to the Chinese Government, but when you boil it down to the basics, there is nothing obliging Google as a company to engage in this fight.

        By the way, before you flame me into oblivion, I am a supporter of a free Tibet, and would love nothing more than to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama returned to his rightful place in Tibet.
        • Re:Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by RDW (41497) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:58AM (#30364502)

          'I'm sure there are those who feel that Google should be willing to "stand up" to the Chinese Government, but when you boil it down to the basics, there is nothing obliging Google as a company to engage in this fight.'

          I wonder why Google doesn't disclose the search terms they do censor in China? Perhaps they 'don't want anyone to know' because they 'shouldn't be doing it in the first place.'...

          • Re:Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Critical Facilities (850111) * on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:20AM (#30364734) Homepage

            I wonder why Google doesn't disclose the search terms they do censor in China? Perhaps they 'don't want anyone to know' because they 'shouldn't be doing it in the first place.'...

            Or perhaps, they've been told by the Chinese Government that a condition of them being provided access to internet users in their country is that they censor various searches, and not disclose that information to the public. While I personally disagree with any form of government censorship, I can at least separate out Google's desire to do business from some implied moral obligation they ought to feel. I'm not saying it's savory, but it's really not any more incendiary than many, many other businesses.

            A lot of us buy clothing or other items that are made in China, complete with all of the horrible working conditions that the people are exposed to, but we don't feel that Nike, Wal-Mart, Fruit-of-the-Loom, or whoever else should "stand up" to the Chinese Government, so why should Google be any different? I'm not saying it's right, but it's hardly unique.

            • Re:Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:11AM (#30365442)

              Or perhaps, they've been told by the Chinese Government that a condition of them being provided access to internet users in their country is that they censor various searches, and not disclose that information to the public.

              Well, sorry, but that's not the game we're playing. The mantra that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear does not often come with the rider "unless you have good reasons for keeping it secret, in which case that's OK and we'll let you off".

              People like Google's Schmidt (if his statements are faithfully reported here, which seems to be in dispute) and Sun Chairman Scott "Privacy is dead; deal with it" McNealy don't give a damn about anyone else's privacy when it serves their business interests to view the world in black and white. For them to argue that it's OK to do something the public would disapprove of, because someone or something or some rule made it the only practical way to run their business, would be hypocrisy.

        • Re:Context? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:22AM (#30364758)

          To be fair, doesn't that fundamentally have more to do with the Chinese government than it does Google? I'm sure there are those who feel that Google should be willing to "stand up" to the Chinese Government, but when you boil it down to the basics, there is nothing obliging Google as a company to engage in this fight.

          You're absolutely correct, nothing obliges Google from making money... even if it help someone else do evil. Sort of like all those people who supported the Nazis so they continue doing business with Germany prior to the US entry into WWII.

          Yea someone can yell Godwin's Law, but in this case I see a eary similarity between US interests prior to the US entry into WWII and Google's dealings with China. Placing money before principles, and trying to absolve themselves by saying we're only doing what is required to do business with China.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Rockoon (1252108)
            Google, being a publicly held company, has a LEGAL OBLIGATION to place money before mere principles.
            • Re:Context? (Score:4, Informative)

              by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:59AM (#30365264)

              Actually being a publicly held company, Google has a legal obligation to adhere to it's mission statement approved by the share holders.

              The "Legal obligation to place money over principles" is a defense executives and PR firms like to toss around to shift blame.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by DerekLyons (302214)

                Actually being a publicly held company, Google has a legal obligation to adhere to it's mission statement approved by the share holders.

                Um... Bullshit. No such legal obligation exists. In fact, this is the first time I've ever even heard such a claim.

                The "Legal obligation to place money over principles" is a defense executives and PR firms like to toss around to shift blame.

                Any publicly held corporation has the legal obligation to return value to it's shareholders, it's not a defense, it's the st

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              [citation needed]

              There is no law in any jurisdiction with which I am familiar that requires corporate entities of any type to maximise the money made for shareholders no matter what acts may be necessary to do so. Indeed, there are companies who make a point of being ethical in some sense, and this is typically part of the attraction of those companies to their shareholders, employees and clients/customers alike. And of course it is by definition illegal for companies to increase the profit they make by bre

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by virg_mattes (230616)

            You're absolutely correct, nothing obliges Google from making money... even if it help someone else do evil.

            The flip side of this is that, if Google didn't censor searches, they'd be prohibited from being there at all. You can say that they should take a moral stand, but why is refusing to do business in China better than doing limited business, in this case? It's not like some other engine would spring up in Google's place that will allow these searches to work, so Google's presence doesn't leave the Chinese everyman any worse off than if they were absent, and in fact their presence makes it better in some wa

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              It's not like some other engine would spring up in Google's place that will allow these searches to work, so Google's presence doesn't leave the Chinese everyman any worse off than if they were absent, and in fact their presence makes it better in some ways. Given that, I can't agree that it directly parallels giving actual money to finance Hitler's rise to power.

              I've been hearing that line of reason since Nixon visited China. We can change China from within.

              What has this accomplished? China appears more p

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gad_zuki! (70830)

          >I am a supporter of a free Tibet, and would love nothing more than to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama returned to his rightful place in Tibet.

          Yeah, lets get back to a repressive theocracy feudal state!

          http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html [michaelparenti.org]

          As in a free labor system and unlike slavery, the overlords had no responsibility for the serf's maintenance and no direct interest in his or her survival as an expensive piece of property. The serfs had to support themselves. Yet as in a slave system, they were bou

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jellomizer (103300)

        There is a time to fight and a time let it be. If Google didn't agree to the terms it would not have operated in China, leaving the Chinese citizens with less exposure to the outside world. It is not evil, it is following the rules and trying to provide the most good legally possible. The legal system is evil not google.

    • Re:Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aurispector (530273) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:27AM (#30364170)

      The whole concept smacks of intellectual tyranny. The problem as I see it is one of oversight. I don't see electronic paper as any more public than the contents of your briefcase. For some reason government and just about everyone else seems to think that your electronic communications are free game. Why? They need a warrant to tap your phone and tampering with snail mail is a federal crime.

      If a government agency wants to look at what you're doing, they should need a search warrant issued by a judge under clearly devised rules of evidence.

    • Re:Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:29AM (#30364194)

      You are a moron. Google Search logging the queries is not the problem. Google Analytics is. If I query Google it really isn't that surprising that they know what I am searching for. But they really shouldn't know every single time I visit Slashdot, without even using Google to get there.

      And here again the problem is not that I can't protect me against that. I can. The problem is that the vast majority of web users doesn't even know about it.

      • Re:Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sakdoctor (1087155) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:34AM (#30364266) Homepage

        Isn't google-analytics shortly after doubleclick in everyone's host file, DNS, adblock, or other filter of choice?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sloppy (14984)

        But they really shouldn't know every single time I visit Slashdot, without even using Google to get there.

        The responsibility is shared. Slashdot starts your problem by serving you a page that advises you to talk to Google. Then you obey that suggestion. Then Google receives the information that you send them. Google bears some responsibility, but they are third in line.

    • Re:Context? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:31AM (#30364232) Homepage Journal

      Agreed, IF they are going to edit it to sell hits on their site then it's not news it's crap. Let's hope that someone releases an unedited transcript - Google perhaps? If this guy truly said something so stupid then providing the context to prove it shouldn't be a big deal right? And if in the end he was really that stupid then I think it should be everyone's sworn duty to crawl through any and all information he may have left laying around with a microscope and plaster it in bold headlines all over the place - just to prove a point about privacy :-)

      Cue clarifying statement from Google in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1....

    • Re:Context? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:33AM (#30364254)

      Until we hear the quote *in context* then I think what Mr Schmidt said was bloody obvious!

      Most people realise that if a web-type service is offered to you free then it is obvious the company involved is using your data for profit.
      How else can they fund the service you are using?

      I use google mail and of course use thier search services as well - I am fully aware that my data is being harvested so I am hardly going to something suspect.

      Then again you have a *choice* to use Google services or not. But depending how much infrastructure Google want to get involved in will that *choice* become more difficult to take (e.g. DNS)?

      If yoy feel strongly about this - use an alternative.

    • Re:Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SecurityGuy (217807) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:10AM (#30364610)

      I mean, if you enjoy doing something illegal like smoking weed, don't do it in public. You shouldn't be doing it in public in the first place. Do it in the privacy of your own home. If you go to a cafe or place of business and smoke weed, the owner and workers at that cafe might be obligated to call the authorities. Similarly if you're buying weed, don't use the Google search engine to do it.

      This is an excellent example. If you're buying weed, don't use Google to do it. However, if you're Googling how to buy weed, that doesn't imply that you have, or will, and that's where things like this worry me. I might Google how to buy weed because I want to know how my kids might try to do it, so I can prevent it. I'm reminded of those high profile murder cases (Caylee Anthony springs to mind) where the suspect's computer is searched and they find they searched for something suggestive of the crime. We hear about that. We don't hear that 5,000,000 other people performed that same web search during that period of time, and given that 5,000,000 people didn't turn up dead soon after, we can assume they didn't go off and kill someone.

      The problem with invasions of privacy like this isn't so much the release of fact. Ok, so you googled BDSM, to borrow someone else's example. Googling BDSM is relatively innocuous. Oh, but now we're going to assume you are interested in BDSM, or maybe that you participate in it, and that you're a bad person. Dangerous. Not to be trusted around kids and small animals. Shouldn't have a job that exposes you to anyone you might abuse, and in fact, since you have such a job, you should be fired. The problem is the inappropriate leaps from fact to wild, mostly baseless speculation. We can't keep people from making those leaps. We can keep them out of what should be our private affairs.

    • by CanadianRealist (1258974) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:10AM (#30364618)

      I completely agree with your point about context being very important, but there are many legal things people may search for which they still might not want to be public knowledge.

      Suppose you did some searches on atheism, then non-believers were the target of the next witch hunt?

      How about looking for information about an STD that you've contracted. Do you want everyone to know about that?

      What about questionably illegal activities? Suppose you and your wife decide to try anal sex and search for some advice on avoiding problems. What if you live in a state (not sure there still are any) where that is illegal?

    • Re:Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:14AM (#30364662) Homepage Journal

      Are they going for illegal? Immoral? Unethical? Embarrassing? This list is neither all inclusive or all exclusive.

      • Marijuana is illegal in many places but not immoral, possibly unethical depending on your profession, and may or may not be embarrassing.
      • Adultery is immoral, usually unethical and embarrassing, but is perfectly legal.
      • Prostitution may or may not be legal, may or may not be immoral, may or may not be unethical, may or may not be embarrassing

      Is this only with Google? I'd expect "Be Evil(TM)" Microsoft to act like this, even if they said they weren't. Is there a search engine that won't reveal your secrets? If there is, that's where you should go for secret searching.

      Or use a proxy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      I second this motion. The problem isn't that google knows you're doing it; if the US Gov't wants to know what you're doing online, they will know. The problem is that certain things which don't hurt anyone are illegal. The solution has nothing to do with google, unless perhaps they're harming people's attempts at advocacy. Given how trivial it is to find illegal information with google, that just doesn't wash.

      In the mean time, don't put incriminating evidence online. It doesn't matter if google has it, or y

    • Re:Context? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:32AM (#30365744) Homepage

      I think it's really simple, for example even though I consider my bank account balance private there's probably quite a few people at the bank that at least theoretically could look at it. If I use Google apps to write a letter I consider private, it's in much the same situation. And yet, most letters I write are significantly less important or private than my bank accounts. "I can't put my letters on Google, or people would see what I write" is a bit like "I can't put my money in the bank, or people would see how much money I have". Many companies live that way too having outsourced all their basic IT, for the most part this works fine. I can see how Google doesn't provide total anonymity or privacy yet good enough for many people and those remaining people it isn't possible for Google to serve.

      If you want total privacy and anonymity, you can't rely on anyone else. You have to do it all on your own computer, use anonymous networks, connect directly with your peers and not over backbones like email or facebook or skype, in short it's a whole different game. And if you're really paranoid about it, you probably want to encrypt and physically secure and make tempest-proof and screened software and... the list really goes on and on, and it doesn't stop until your computer is as secure as the deepest vault at the Pentagon. Google apps isn't the place for Top Secret documents and if that's your standard then neither it is for you.

      It's all a matter of using it with reason. If you're using a google web app to edit pictures before putting them on your facebook or myspace or photo sharing site, what have you lost? Nothing. You were going to put them online at the mercy of a company and their privacy policy anyway. Which may or may not be a good idea in the first place, but at least it's fairly consistent.

  • Herpes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gatkinso (15975) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:22AM (#30364120)

    Herpes is not a crime, but I bet if you had it you would want to keep that fact private.

  • by mdarksbane (587589) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:22AM (#30364124)

    The problem is that everyone is a wrongdoer by someone's definition.

    • by sukotto (122876) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:08AM (#30364594)
      "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him." -- Cardinal Richelieu
  • Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilovegeorgebush (923173) * on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:23AM (#30364130) Homepage
    Privacy isn't about hiding a wrong.


    But whatever, by his logic he'd be happy to share his credit card details and the key-code to his security at home?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DMiax (915735)

      There are tons of comments like this: how can you not realize that you prove his point?

      Since he does not want those details online he does not put them online. Because, I have to tell you, if you put something online, then it may happen that it goes online.

      If you send information on the wire it's leaving your home, like your mail. And like your mail and your phone line it is protected, but only to some extent. Even your credit card transaction logs may be examined by the cops if they are relevant in a crim

  • Or perhaps.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:28AM (#30364184) Homepage
    'If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.'

    Or perhaps if I have something that I don't want anyone to know, it's NONE OF THEIR FUCKING BUSINESS! I'm tired of this presumption of guilt that's become all the rage these days. We really need to get these idiots out of positions of power.
  • by east coast (590680) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:30AM (#30364200)
    This is the reason that people who want help with social ills are afraid to seek help. A guy who has a problem with drugs or alcohol or a less-than-ideal medical issue are afraid, at the very least, of the stigma of what will be associated with them if they come out to find proper help. It would be nice to think that the internet could be a place for these people to take a first step towards recovery but even those who supposedly do no evil aren't willing to give these people a bit of wiggle room to find themselves the kinds of assistance that they need.
    • by 2obvious4u (871996) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:14AM (#30364656)
      Drugs and alcohol are easy to find treatment for. Try finding a sympathetic ear if your struggling with child pornography, or worse, contemplating molesting a child; but would like to seek help because you know its wrong. There is plenty of help for the victims of abuse, but no help for would be abusers looking for someone to help them stop. All that you will find for those people is a crowd waiting to stone them or put them in jail for life.
  • Same old fallacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecurityGuy (217807) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:31AM (#30364216)

    It's an obvious fallacy. The old "You have nothing to worry about if you're doing nothing wrong" argument rests on a belief in perfect justice. You'll only be punished for things which you shouldn't be doing. However, history is riddled with examples of people doing and being things for which they should not be punished, but are. Like black, gay, catholic and/or protestant in Northern Ireland, Jewish, a journalist anywhere the state doesn't want its secrets told, etc. It assumes punishments fit the crimes, which in many cases they obviously don't, like becoming a registered sex offender for peeing on a tree in a world where you can kill someone without becoming a registered murderer. You have nothing to worry about if you're not doing anything anyone in the world considers wrong.

    News flash: You -are- doing something someone in the world considers wrong.

  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:31AM (#30364224) Homepage

    There are lots of things which are perfectly legal yet something one would prefer to keep private.

    My favorite example is a primary school teacher who happens to like BDSM sex. People who are into this adhere to the Safe, sane and consensual [wikipedia.org] principle. (Note: NSFW image in Wikipedia article.) In short, whatever happens happens between consenting adults.

    Yet I'd wager that given the average primary school class at least one of the parents will throw a fit if they find the kids' teacher is "a sick pervert".

    So no, it's not as simple as simply abstaining from anything you wouldn't like other people to know. This is an extreme example, but I'm sure other people can come up with more subtle ones if need be.

    • by gutnor (872759) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:05AM (#30364564)
      Don't need to go that far.
      I'm sure in lot of places, being gay, having the wrong faith, vote for the wrong party, read the wrong book, ... would label you a "sick pervert".

      Anyway under the same assumptions, why should voting be kept private ? After all you have nothing to hide - and there is really nothing you would do in the voting booth that could be considered illegal ...
    • by williamhb (758070) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:32AM (#30364894) Journal

      There are lots of things which are perfectly legal yet something one would prefer to keep private.

      If you're after an example that is perhaps more rhetorically useful (and safe for work), try the fact that Google requires all its staff to sign confidentiality clauses in their contracts and has NDAs with its partners, not just about inventions but also about business plans -- does that mean that Google's business is something that it shouldn't be doing, or is Eric planning on striking all those confidentiality contracts?

  • Not this again (Score:5, Informative)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:31AM (#30364230) Homepage

    "If you've got nothing to hide" is a tool of tyranny. I thought it was well and truly debunked, and yet it seems it just won't flush away.

    Individual privacy doesn't need a reason. The goal of privacy is privacy.

    If you're going to search for something that you don't want google spunking up 5 years later, to your post democratic, tyrant overlords, you better start taking precautions.
    This is a start. https://ssl.scroogle.org/ [scroogle.org]

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:33AM (#30364252) Homepage

    > Eric Schmidt told reporter Maria Bartiromo, 'If you have something that you
    > don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first
    > place.'

    Has a Webcam in his bedroom, does he? I can find his medical records with a Google search? Everything he says at board meetings is published?

  • by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel,hedblom&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:34AM (#30364262) Homepage Journal

    Google is just a victim of laws that we as citizens let eat away at our privacy. Google cant withold information that the governments asks for if it doesnt have any support in law.

    Its also easy to forget that Google is just one player, ask yourself what other information is readily avaliable except internet logs? Utilities, water, credit receipts, health records, travels etc etc. Even if you could be 100% anonymous on the internet your private life is still non existent.

    The problem is that privacy has been abolished everywhere and people just dont seem to care about it. History repeats itself, again and again...

  • Nothing to hide? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jhhdk (1120433) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:55AM (#30364460)

    Same false argument has been put forward to defend of CCTV.
    I prefer to shit in privacy, but it seems Eric Schmidt doesn't.

    He should read this article.

    Solove, Daniel J., 'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy. San Diego Law Review, Vol. 44, 2007; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 289. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=998565 [ssrn.com]

  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:02AM (#30364542)
    I have long suspected that you and your company were, in fact, completely evil and not deserving of the hype surrounding you, nor the trust placed in you. I will now no longer be using my Gmail account, which I have had for years. The few things which are still sent there regularly, I will be changing to send to another address on my personal mail server. I will continue not responding to Voice and Wave invites. I will no longer be logging into Google for search results, nor will be accepting cookies from you, and as soon as I can find a reasonable search engine to replace you, I will not be coming back.

    At least this will give me something to do this morning.
  • by moxley (895517) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:19AM (#30364714)

    Maybe Mr. Schmidt would do well to remember the time he complained in the media about the fact that a lot of his personal details, including his address, etc - were found in Google search. Apparently he was doing something wrong, and had devious plan - I mean, if we listen to Mr. Schmidt, his apparent concerns at the time were enough to justify many articles in the mainstream press....Hashe been investigated yet?

    Maybe Mr. Schmidt shouldn't be the CEO of a company that deals with so much personal information if he doesn't understand the need for privacy and how important it is to most people.

    The argument he makes is the weakest argument people who advocate destroying personal privacy can make - and one of the worst things about it, and something they never seem to consider is that it is a COMPLETELY UNAMERICAN argument, and the reason I say this is because it assumes that the authorities (government) are completely infalliable and should be trusted. One of the main premises of the way our system is supposed to work is checks and balances, they point of which is that we aren't supposed to trust authorities, this is WHY we have checks and balances....and corporations - please.

    • The argument he makes is the weakest argument people who advocate destroying personal privacy can make - and one of the worst things about it, and something they never seem to consider is that it is a COMPLETELY UNAMERICAN argument

      I think it's also rather undanish, ungerman, unnorwegian, probably very unswedish, not particularly finnish either, etc.

      True, Google is seated in Mountain View, CA, in the US. But it operates elsewhere, and will probably need to respect local laws in ${not the USA}.

  • FTFY... (Score:3, Informative)

    by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:27AM (#30364812)

    'If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't live in a judgmental society which bases its morality on a code of ethics that has been outdated for about 4,000 years now and is purposely designed to make you feel bad for being human.'

    There, I said it. Our society looks down upon individuals for engaging in such a wide swath of behaviors that you either have to avoid living your life to the fullest, or keep some things to yourself if you want to be a productive member of society. Hopefully we can get to the point where people learn to mind their own business about such things, but until then, we all have a damn good reason to want some privacy.

  • Hunters - yet again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:44AM (#30365078)

    This is about the third or fourth time I have posted this on Slashdot. I'm glad I copied the text of the post when I saw it. Please note, the text is not mine. I just found it brilliant, that's all.

    "Yeah! Hunters don't kill the *innocent* animals - they look for the shifty-eyed ones that are probably the criminal element of their species!"

    "If the're not guilty, why are they running?"

      I wrote about this a while ago. Here's the text:

    "If you haven't done anything wrong, what do you have to hide?"

    Ever heard that one? I work in information security, so I have heard it more than my fair share. I've always hated that reasoning, because I am a little bit paranoid by nature, something which serves me very well in my profession. So my standard response to people who have asked that question near me has been "because I'm paranoid." But that doesn't usually help, since most people who would ask that question see paranoia as a bad thing to begin with. So for a long time I've been trying to come up with a valid, reasoned, and intelligent answer which shoots the holes in the flawed logic that need to be there.

    And someone unknowingly provided me with just that answer today. In a conversation about hunting, somebody posted this about prey animals and hunters:
    "Yeah! Hunters don't kill the *innocent* animals - they look for the shifty-eyed ones that are probably the criminal element of their species!"
    but in a brilliant (and very funny) retort, someone else said:
    "If the're not guilty, why are they running?"

    Suddenly it made sense, that nagging thing in the back of my head. The logical reason why a reasonable dose of paranoia is healthy. Because it's one thing to be afraid of the TRUTH. People who commit murder or otherwise deprive others of their Natural Rights are afraid of the TRUTH, because it is the light of TRUTH that will help bring them to justice.

    But it's another thing entirely to be afraid of hunters. And all too often, the hunters are the ones proclaiming to be looking for TRUTH. But they are more concerned with removing any obstactles to finding the TRUTH, even when that means bulldozing over people's rights (the right to privacy, the right to anonymity) in their quest for it. And sadly, these people often cannot tell the difference between the appearance of TRUTH and TRUTH itself. And these, the ones who are so convinced they have found the TRUTH that they stop looking for it, are some of the worst oppressors of Natural Rights the world has ever known.

    They are the hunters, and it is right and good for the prey to be afraid of the hunters, and to run away from them. Do not be fooled when a hunter says "why are you running from me if you have nothing to hide?" Because having something to hide is not the only reason to be hiding something.

  • Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:52AM (#30365182)

    Will Google be doing all negotiations in public from now on?

    What a moronic thing to say Mr. Schmidt...

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:52AM (#30365188)

    That statement is exactly in line with the ugly police state mentality that asks, "If you aren't doing anything wrong, what are you worried about?" The answer is that as a responsible, law-abiding adult in a free society, you have the RIGHT to go about your lawful business and live your life without interference from either the government or other citizens.

    There are many, many things some people within a free society might disapprove of, and they might very well have the opportunity to affect your life. Try getting hired at a company full of true believers if you happen to be an atheist...and they know it. Or watch what happens to your kids if your standards of acceptable behaviour (though legal) aren't the community norm.

    If that's what Eric Schmidt actually believes, he's a crypto-fascist, and we'd better start keeping a very close eye on Google.

  • I shouldn't be... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by holophrastic (221104) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:12AM (#30365454)

    Doing anything new or innovative.
    Taking pride in my work.
    Discussing trade secrets with colleagues.
    Discussing competitive business strategies.
    Uisg any word that could be misunderstood my someone as something illegal.

    A few years ago, I was at a bar with a client. He had observed in his web-site logs that many of his visitors arrive from searches for "child pornography". My client is a comedian, and one of his blogs used the words within a joke. Suddenly, some drunken idiot from across the bar stumbled over with the intent of physically brutalizing us -- having overheard two words out of two hundred. Needless to say, drunken stumbling idiots aren't difficult to subdue.

  • Way to go, Google (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:22AM (#30365600)

    You just alienated the largest pool of geeks on the Internet.

    "You may think you're not doing anything wrong, but you may indeed be wronging someone you don't know."
    "But who defines what's wrong?"
    "Someone you don't know."

    Excuse me while I iron my burka...I'll probably be needing it soon, just to be sure I'm not breaking any future laws.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:25AM (#30365636)

    We've all heard the stories of people walking out of Federal Research Laboratories with paperwork and thumb drives full of information such as Jessican Quintana [blogspot.com]. While stealing nuclear secrets might be a bit harder to use/sell than say 10million email addresses plus associated personal information. I'd be a bit more concerned about some angry employee grabbing a tape (which I doubt they back much up to tape) or just copying off some data onto a thumb drive and walking out the door.

    This might not be so hard under their "20% personal projects plan"...

    "Hey boss, I've got an idea for a personal project.. I'd like to create a google map that maps someone and all of their friend's email addresses on it! Kind of like overlaying their email address next to their home address and phone number. I just need access to that personal data."

    While the CEO can say all sorts of stuff about privacy, there's nothing stopping some kid who makes 1000x less than the CEO and will never become a millionaire from walking out the door with this information and becoming a millionaire that way. If you don't want people to know a secret, don't tell them. Google shouldn't be allowed to collect this stuff anyhow, that way it can't leak out to begin with.

  • by careysub (976506) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:09PM (#30366292)

    Charles Fitzgerald, Microsoft program manager, (1996): "If you want security on the 'Net', unplug your computer."

    Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, (1999): "You, us folks, peasants, you already have zero privacy. Get over it."

    Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, (2009): "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

    Our corporate masters have always felt that our private lives are their property to abuse as they see fit.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:55PM (#30366910) Homepage

    What would Google think if someone released their customer list?

    We have it. A sample of Google AdWords advertisers:

    • saarc.autodesk.com
    • safeguarddd.com
    • safestepproducts.com
    • safetyawarenessposters.com
    • safetyproductsllc.com
    • safetyrailsource.com
    • sagemas.com
    • sagepayservices.com
    • sagonet.com
    • saideigama.com

    There are about 22,000 Google AdWords customers known to us. Every time Google puts up an AdWords ad, it exposes the identity of the advertiser. Our AdRater [mozilla.org] browser plug-in rates on-line advertisers as their ads are presented to users. Unlike most plug-ins, we don't monitor user behavior. Instead, we monitor advertiser behavior, which is in some ways more interesting. This doesn't violate Google's terms of service. Every request made of Google was made by a user, not us, during ordinary browsing. We're just watching the ads go by. It's like clipping ads from newspapers to see what your competitors are doing.

    As we point out occasionally [sitetruth.net], about 35% of Google's advertisers are "bottom feeders". Google needs to raise the bar on who can run ads with them. Search Google for "Craigslist auto posting tool" and look at the paid ads. You can buy "Easy Ad Poster Deluxe", a program for spamming Craigslist, through Google Checkout [google.com], so Google isn't just advertising it, they're taking a cut of the revenue as well. That's embarrassing for Google, or should be.

  • by swordgeek (112599) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:39PM (#30367458) Journal

    People have generally described this as a big misstep on Schmidt's part. Maybe it is, but only in that he revealed a bit more of Google's attitude than they normally do.

    Google has been prancing around for years saying, "oh, don't worry about our data collection. We're the GOOD guys! We even have a motto that says don't be evil, and in fact we're so good that it's not even official." In the meantime, they've been behaving just like any other smart corporation in a sensitive monopoly position. It amazes me that nobody in the media and damned few people in the industry seem to care about what they're doing, just that they've said "don't be evil" and so everything is OK.

    So either Schmidt has revealed more than he meant to (which would be a misstep), or he realises that they are so powerful that they don't have to pretend anymore. You can be sure, however, that he did NOT misrepresent Google or its values.

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