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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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  • Re:Context? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Packet Pusher (231564) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:31AM (#30364218)

    In video it seems a lot more common sense and a lot less scandal.

    Basically, Google is subject to the law of the land. Your searches are retained for some time and if you absolutely want to make sure that the information doesn't end up in government hands (via legal methods) then don't search for it.

    Simple and truthful advice that any tech savy person would give.

  • 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. []

  • 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...

  • 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 [], this [], this [], or this []. 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 [], of course. LOL

    You can make scroogle [] 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:Herpes? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:10AM (#30364620)

    She'll know soon anyways.

    Actually no .. she will not know soon

    As a rough generalization, 20% of adults in the US have genital herpes, but of those only 20% actually know. This mainly because it is very hard to accurately diagnose. The symptoms can present themselves as belonging to unrelated diseases. And given that it is not life threatening, does not cause sterility or other major health problems (as per other STDs) doctors don't really go out of their way to diagnose it

  • 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.

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

    by hitmark (640295) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:52AM (#30365170) Journal
  • 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:Context? (Score:3, Informative)

    by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:00AM (#30365284)

    >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! []

    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 bound to their masters, guaranteeing a fixed and permanent workforce that could neither organize nor strike nor freely depart as might laborers in a market context. The overlords had the best of both worlds.

    One 22-year old woman, herself a runaway serf, reports: "Pretty serf girls were usually taken by the owner as house servants and used as he wished"; they "were just slaves without rights."18 Serfs needed permission to go anywhere. Landowners had legal authority to capture those who tried to flee. One 24-year old runaway welcomed the Chinese intervention as a "liberation." He testified that under serfdom he was subjected to incessant toil, hunger, and cold. After his third failed escape, he was merciless beaten by the landlord's men until blood poured from his nose and mouth. They then poured alcohol and caustic soda on his wounds to increase the pain, he claimed.19

    The serfs were taxed upon getting married, taxed for the birth of each child and for every death in the family. They were taxed for planting a tree in their yard and for keeping animals. They were taxed for religious festivals and for public dancing and drumming, for being sent to prison and upon being released. Those who could not find work were taxed for being unemployed, and if they traveled to another village in search of work, they paid a passage tax. When people could not pay, the monasteries lent them money at 20 to 50 percent interest. Some debts were handed down from father to son to grandson. Debtors who could not meet their obligations risked being cast into slavery.20

    The theocracy's religious teachings buttressed its class order. The poor and afflicted were taught that they had brought their troubles upon themselves because of their wicked ways in previous lives. Hence they had to accept the misery of their present existence as a karmic atonement and in anticipation that their lot would improve in their next lifetime. The rich and powerful treated their good fortune as a reward for, and tangible evidence of, virtue in past and present lives.

  • Re:Context? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:00AM (#30365290)

    Not if their charter said otherwise. But, in order to generate the highest IPO, they didn't

  • Re:Context? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:31AM (#30365708) Homepage Journal

    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:Don't be evil? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mweather (1089505) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:35AM (#30365784)

    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:5, Informative)

    by Firehed (942385) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:47AM (#30365958) Homepage

    Indeed. But it was early employee Paul Buchheit that came up with the term, not Brin.

  • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mdarksbane (587589) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:01PM (#30366146)

    Please stop spewing ridiculous idealism.

    Nearly everyone in here broke the speed limit on their way to work, has pornography that is considered illegal in some states, software that is being used outside of its licensing terms, used drugs that are illegal somewhere in the world, music or movies that violate copyright law, and probably had sex in a way that is illegal in many states and cities. Not to mention the fact that you will be hard-pressed to find someone who does not have opinions they have expressed that could be used to incriminate them of something in the wrong context, or that some people who want to be political power consider to be illegal.

    Laws are arbitrary rules written by those in charge. Rules that can change, rules that can be enforced capriciously and inconsistently. YOU PERSONALLY have done something illegal in that last year, and probably several things that a large number of people would like to make illegal. Lawyers and judges study the law for years, and even they only know a small subset of what actually is legal and illegal in any given area.

    It's a trite maxim, but it's true. Here's a great video from a lawyer and a cop about why the right against to self-incrimination and privacy is so important even to people who don't think they have anything to hide. []

  • 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:


    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 [] 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 [], 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 [], 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.

  • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:15PM (#30367166) Homepage

    Bell Labs was AT&T allowing a very, very small percentage of their workforce to do whatever interested them five days out of five. Google allows almost all their workforce to pursue pet projects 1 day out of 5. AT&T did this with the benefit of a protected monopoly, I might add.

  • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:2, Informative)

    by bonch (38532) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:28PM (#30367322)

    They use open standards because they want you using their online services and giving them personal data to index for advertising purposes. It's not out of the goodness of their hearts.

    If you still think Google is an open company, where is the source code of their core business--their search engine? You don't see it, do you?

  • Re:Context? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:34PM (#30367390) Homepage

    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 stone cold truth - hence the Revlon Rule [].

  • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:32PM (#30368260)

    Here's a recent podcast with Buchheit in which he discusses the origin of the Don't Be Evil slogan. :EconTalk with Russ Roberts - great weekly podcast if you are interested in economics...

  • by JLucien (525298) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:42PM (#30368412)
    Having read Yahoo's correspondence with US Marshall's Service regarding price of information and the need to keep it secret [], and subsequent correspondence between Yahoo's lawyers and Cryptome, I thought Schmidt was taking a potshot at Yahoo.

    The Yahoo lawyer clearly states that the public release of their sale of information to law enforcement would undermine their user's trust regarding privacy. This can only be taken as we don't want them to know that they in fact have none.

    When I read that snippet from Schmidt, I immediately thought he was talking about Yahoo. I don't see him as the "if you have nothing to hide" kind of guy.
  • Let's do this: (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@s[ ] ['las' in gap]> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @06:57PM (#30371670)

    Just put all his private stuff up the Internet. Indexed by Google itself. ^^
    Then lock the FOX speculation-hate-machine onto it.

    Let’s see him not worry about his privacy then. ^^

    For fun and giggles, we can add some fake stuff in there too that will get him into pound-me-in-the-ass-prison.

    Is that some kind of Streisand effect, or do we need a new name?

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

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:31PM (#30372034)
    Actually, something like this already happened before. In 2005, Google blacklisted CNet [] journalists because they dared publish some data [] about Eric Schmidt.

    Eric Schmidt is a two faced hypocrit about privacy.

  • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:34PM (#30373832)

    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.

    70% PhD is probably not true (was it ever true? I doubt it). There are a lot of misconception about google 20% projects. It has been made very clear that it doesn't mean you get to work on personal projects with that time. Your 20% time must "had value to google".

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."