news google addresses concerns over ceos privacy statement
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Google addresses concerns over CEO’s privacy statement

A recent statement by Eric Schmidt has drummed up quite a bit of controversy, but Google says its CEO’s words were taken out of context. In an interview with CNBC last week, Schmidt answered a question about users treating Google like their most trusted friend by saying, among other things, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

The statement caused one Mozilla executive to slam Google on his personal blog and encourage Firefox users to switch to Microsoft’s Bing, which he claims has a better security policy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also criticized Schmidt’s response, saying it made it look like Google “is not even concerned enough to understand basic lessons about privacy and why it’s important on so many levels — from protection against shallow embarrassments to the preservation of freedom and human rights.”

InformationWeek has received a fresh statement by Google in response to these attacks:

“The context in which Eric answered this question was clear,” said a Google spokesperson in an e-mailed statement. “He was talking about the US Patriot Act. The [CNBC] documentary later made clear the lengths to which Google goes to inform and empower users about privacy-related concerns, including creating a dashboard in which users can review and control data in their Google accounts.”

As we noted in our original coverage, the footage of Schmidt’s response was cut. The CEO started with, “Well, I think judgment matters,” then the video immediately cut to the meaty, controversial part—”If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know…” Too bad his full reply doesn’t seem to have appeared anywhere yet.

0 responses to “Google addresses concerns over CEO’s privacy statement

  1. Bah I had a reply but it got deleted when I edited another post and I’m too tired to try to recreate it exactly so I’ll be more brief.

    The proper declaration of war and the wording required is at best debated even if the de facto procedure does not require a ‘formal’ declaration. I’m kind of surprised this doesn’t bother you given your other stances.

    Re: Patriot Act sections found unconsitutional – I think you should try looking up some information on that. This may not be the case each and every time but for the ones I found they were struck down both by lower courts and on appeal and there were no further appeals so that means it’s struck down. This information really isn’t hard to find. Funnily enough they were often found to violate the 4th Amendment (search and seizure) which you seem concerned about otherwise.

    I’m also a little sad that you just give up so easily with a ‘*shrug* the provisions will go away when we’re no longer ‘at war.” especially since the provisions run directly counter to your favorite property rights Bill of Rights amendments. It confuses me that you can say some things about the importance of those rights but then defend the Patriot Act. Now there is some precedence in major conflicts for decreasing or removing such rights but the problem is that the ‘War on Terror’ will never end because it’s so vague. It’s not comparable whatsoever to fighting a nation-state which is why it is the ultimate 1984-style perpetual war and that means perpetual loss of said rights. Fortunately the checks and balances are working this out slowly to a certain extent but Congress keeps renewing the Act – they haven’t quite caught on yet.

    About ‘dragnetting’ of purely domestic communications, see post # 51.

  2. Surely you’ve heard of NSA installations like the one at the AT&T San Francisco International b[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/spyfactory/<]§ (Adrienne Kinne is a voice interceptor who worked for the Army and then was assigned by the Army to the NSA) NARRATOR: The post-9/11 rules authorized NSA to listen in to Americans both inside and outside the U.S., without any special court approval. ADRIENNE KINNE: After 9/11, we were essentially put in charge of a new system which intercepted satellite phone communications in Iraq and Afghanistan and surrounding areas. NARRATOR: Calls and data from the Middle East and North Africa are collected and relayed to a listening post, tucked in the hills, outside Augusta, Georgia. As a voice interceptor, Adrienne Kinne listened to some of those calls. Assigned by the Army to NSA, she was called back to active duty after 9/11. ADRIENNE KINNE: For a voice interceptor, the computer system would essentially pop up, and it would be very similar, I would say, to iTunes, where you could just go through and click on various conversations, and it would have the phone number, the time up, time down. r[

  3. I’m not sure how it wasn’t clear that I feel the law is the problem. I even said that Google must comply with the law, I can’t fault them for that so perhaps I should have used the word ‘excuse’ rather than ‘justification.’ I’m not familiar with whatever Swedish (?) ISP you’re talking about but that’s a perfect counter-example – even if they thought it likely that they would be forced to comply they at least attempted not to. I believe Qwest in the USA also objected to complying (if not Qwest then some other major telecom provider/ISP.)

  4. Awesome. So not only was I correct in that you said treason as partisan hyperbole but you clearly don’t understand what either treason or sedition means. First off they are two distinct legal terms, sedition is not a ‘form’ of treason. Maybe you’ll learn something from Wikipedia’s page: §[<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedition<]§ or the definition of sedition q[

  5. The telecoms dont spy on you. The information is delivered in very near real time to the LEA that had the warrant. Nothing is stored at the telecom.

    And yes i know because i design, test, & deploy the solutions for one of the major telecoms wireless, wireline & voip network. We all have to follow the same laws.

  6. its part stupidity, part pressure, part corruption. government is constructed and operated under those three conditions. why do you think revolutions are so common place? heck, we’ve had two already, and were not even an old country.

  7. “They that would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ben Franklin, International Pervert, Unfaithful Husband, Founding Father

  8. Depending on whose computer your using, someone else could be logging all the same things without any notifications.

  9. I do, I’ve never paid Google a dime, yet I’ve paid tens of thousands to telecoms over my life. You would think it would upset people a tad more that the companies they PAY for services are spying on themg{

  10. Some major ISP in Sweden (i think) stopped keeping any logs once they would be forced to make those logs available to MPAA/RIAA-thing. Court order forcing them to start keeping logs again came shortly after.

    So if Google is obeying the law and not shirking it (only to have more law forced upon it) then why is Google more of a problem than the equally-if-not-more-corrupt law makers.

  11. I am Canadian, so take my comment with a grain of salt, but any country that allows its representatives to pass a bill without reading it seems destined for failure.

    I’m sure Canadian legislation e.g., ACTA, is going to prove Canada is just as dumb as the US.

  12. Now all you have to do is come up with justification for your claims. But you can’t. There are no precedents for which forms of war declaration by Congress are legitimate and which are not. They all are, no matter their form. The argument you make is less than rational.

    With respect to provisions of the Patriot Act, lots of courts have held lots of things, and if not each and every last one then all but an insignificant number of such decisions about constitutionality have been overturned by higher courts. That’s politics, eh? It doesn’t make them any more or less legitimate, considering some of the people who have been put on various courts.

    I don’t rely on courts to define my rights. I derive them from reason: facts and logic.

    I think you’re likely right about the vague enemy definition as opposed to a particular state, but that’s the way it is. I’m not running the show, and people who understand things the way I do don’t get as much promotion in various media as those who go along with the general trend of promoting serfdom. I’d have threatened Riyadh and Tehran first, but that’s not how things went in 2001 (the latter capital because they’ve sponsored the vast majority of terrorism for the last 30 years).

    As for your talk about a wide dragnet — where has this happened inside the U.S. since 2001? Intel agencies were used by the Chief Executive domestically in the 1990’s against political opponents, but I’ve seen nothing evidencing that sort of thing since then.

    Your continued attempted cheap shots aren’t making this a very interesting discussion. My examples were chosen to illustrate how one ought to go about correcting the situation, since the lesser violations do not produce consequences producing more and growing rights violations. Since all rights, including privacy, are derived from the right to one’s person and property, the rights that are the basis of others are the ones to be most strenuously defended. If that happens, the lesser violations will be ended as well by consistent application of the original principle. War violations are and applied to few. Others are applied to everyone at all times. The declared war will end and when it does the temporary failures to get warrants will end, too. The war of the government against the people will be more difficult to end, because some believe in it as their god, and the basic violation enables all of their other attacks, since it funds them in their view of themselves as our lords and masters.

  13. They did the same during the War of Independence where Franklin was a major influence. So there goes that argument.

    As mentioned, of course, I don’t advocate any of these actions. I simply order my outrage. If the greater abuses were nonexistent, then the lesser ones would be of greater import.

  14. Facts are silly? Some apparently don’t like facts when they get in the way of their political desires.

    The form of treason he committed is actually sedition, but it’s somewhat protected because no one can be held accountable outside of Congress for a vote in Congress. (And yes, I would do so in Congress by expulsion for every POS who did what he did in 1999, and I’d do it in both chambers). The piece of garbage voted, rather than to hold an abuser of power, law violator (hundreds of perjuries to a grand jury and lies to Congress, suborning perjury by threats and intimidations to witnesses, and bribes to at least one witness, as well as violating the privacy of one witness), rights violator, and history’s worst traitor accountable for his crimes and abuses, instead to demonstrate his partisanship. As with all of his supporters and defenders.

    Why should that protection for Congress continue when our protections from them are violated with each new piece of legislation?

    Another documented traitor against the U.S. not just by votes but by revealing by name protected agents for the U.S. is Sen. Patrick Leahy, still in the Senate. The reason they aren’t held accountable is because of the hyperpartisanship of the party of every traitor in the history of the U.S., and the fear of the other party of what would happen if they tried to hold them accountable. Likewise Edward M. Kennedy, who tried several times to become a Soviet agent but was turned down even by the bloodthirsty Yuri Andropov. And there’s also Congressman Jim McDermott, who gave intel, aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein in 2002-3. Slavers don’t find treason very troubling, obviously.

  15. The US Constitution and legal precedent disagrees with you but if you want to apply legal definitions only when it suits your purpose, great. It just makes you look stupid is all. Also, despite your apparent openness to fringe theories you fail to see how an endless ‘War on Terror’ is far worse as justification for violations of civil rights than a war versus a defined enemy state. Oceania, Eurasia, Eastasia, Al Qaeda, Taliban they’re all the same, and remember…war is peace! btw many of the provisions of the original 2001 Patriot Act have been found unconstitutional by courts of law. Once again, legal precedent isn’t doing you any favors.

    Your example of German Nazis killing people versus violation of rights of US citizens isn’t even comparable to what we’re talking about and the reason why are right in the words you use. ‘Persons of interest’ means that it is to or from specific people, not that every single piece of correspondence was dragnetted.

    As for the bit about prioritizing rights I basically read ‘As long as it’s happening to someone else it’s not as big a deal.’ After all someone being abused by police is not nearly as important as your money and ‘stuff’ right? (I understand what’s implied by your ’96 years’ statement and all the alluded to tax denier arguments.)

    The Patriot Act, assuming it doesn’t get re-upped ad infinitum, will be seen by history in the same light as the Alien and Sedition Acts.

  16. You seem invariably to try to evade reality in these arguments in similar fashion.

    There’s no such thing as a Formal Declaration of War. If Congress says war is authorized, that’s what it is. There’s no special type of adopted law, resolution, or anything else. It’s whatever Congress says that includes authorization. The same thing happened in late 1990 when force was authorized – i.e. war – against Iraq. That one did not have a legitimate casus belli, BTW, at least for the U.S.

    So, to pose an example, you don’t think German Nazis killing millions of people because of their race/religion was more significant than the American government reading the outgoing mail of persons addressed to persons of interest during WWII, or mail they could determine came from such persons back to this country? Of course you do consider one the worse, especially because the one is permanent, the other ended with the war.

    Likewise, I consider some rights violations so obviously much more widespread and dangerous than the handful of cases where persons directly involved in terroristic acts or planning against the United States whose privacy is violated perhaps for a day or a few days before a court grants the warrant to do so. I know the latter will disappear as the threat recedes, while the former is the basis for an entire political movement based on the idea of human bondage, and is taught to every child through the unconstitutional government school systems and the textbooks they require, and is at the root of nearly every other rights violation and the source of most forms of violence and other lawlessness in the country.

    Another example: while I don’t think it a good thing for a cop on the street to crack a suspect on the head with his nightstick, it’s nothing compared to the Congress violating my 4th amendment right to privacy and my 5th amendment rights both to keep from being compelled to be a witness against myself via my tax forms and those of my employer, and to keep my property unless justly compensated for its taking.

    So yes, I have enough sense to rank things in order of importance.

  17. 1) What does that silly baseless accusation directly have to do with voting for or against the Orwellian-named Patriot Act? (before you answer I hope you know that there were other congressmen who voted against it) and

    2) wtf are you even talking about? A citation for such a bold statement is certainly called for. Considering he is still serving as a Senator, was reelected in 2004, and thus served for years under Republican control of both the Congress and Presidency I can’t see how that’s possible. The only thing I can imagine is that you’re using some twisted partisan false definition of ‘treason’ meant as rhetorical hyperbole.

  18. Wrong. What you are referring to are Authorized Use of Military Force ‘resolutions’ (in the case of Iraq it was HJR 114) not Declarations of War. The last time the US Congress, the only body legally allowed to declare war under the US Consitution (See Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution), declared war was World War II.

    I guess I don’t see any matters that violate rights and legal precendent as ‘less significant.’ That’s how rights get chipped away slowly but surely.

  19. Did you not even read the news piece on TR let alone the article which has the exact quote from the interview? Schmidt: q[

  20. “Restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.”

    Wow, that really says it all. A fool’s right to a gun trumps the fundamental civil rights and liberties that encompasses the 4th Amendment and the penumbra that grants us the right of privacy. Who cares if the government is impermissibly tapping our phones, reading our emails, and monitoring every facet of our lives so long as we have our guns. Utter nonsense.

  21. How does referring to the Patriot Act imply support for it? Does that mean YOU support it too?

  22. I’ve heard that latter fiction about the wars multiple times. We had 2 actual declarations of war since Sept., 2001. One on all terrorists related to that month’s attack no matter where they may be, another in October 2002 against Iraq for protecting them and for violating the terms of their 1991 surrender. Go read the declarations for yourself. We didn’t even have to declare against Iraq considering they were in violation of the treaty. BTW, we were already legally at war with Germany in 1940 by sending war materiel to England, at least from their perspective (and long-standing Western definition), but that isn’t a useful argument anyway.

    As for having my rights violated, I have a more sensible hierarchical ordering of violations. Slavery / property rights violations, restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, and even the right against self-incrimination because of tax laws are happening all over the place, and have been for 96 years. Eliminate those problems and then maybe I’ll have greater concern about less significant matters.

  23. Yes I’ve seen that before and while the 8 million number is exaggerated but I will be happy to say I dislike Sprint Nextel for doing it even if they had to because of legal requirements. The problem isn’t just companies complying with the law it’s the law itself. What I don’t like about Google in particular is that they give off the air of being harmless and moreover there are no TOS required, optout/optin, or contracts to use some services like search.

    When I go to Google.com on a fresh computer is there anything that tells me they will store my IP along with what searches I do so they can use it later however they want? No. Just letting people know would go a long way.

  24. Short version: you’re fine having your rights and numerous legal precedents protecting those right violated. Good for you.

    (And just in case you didn’t know the United States has not delcared war against Al Qaeda or against any other location where troops are currently deployed. The current situations are entirely uncomparable to WWI and WWII.)

  25. Not being a well-established member of an organization upon which the United States has declared war, I have no need for worry that my rights will be violated in that way. I suppose if members of al Qaeda began making random calls to American citizens and I received such a call, then perhaps I might have that right violated. Except that, of course, if it was originated in the U.S. they’d already have a roving wiretap on the terrorist, and if it was from elsewhere, it’s scarcely possible to get to me without it being transmitted by some form of radio (including satellite), and picked up that way, in which case there’s no real privacy in such a system anyway. If it came from Britain, continental Europe, or a few other places, then maybe they’d have to use a tap.

    Most of the worries are bunk.

  26. Right or wrong, there really is no privacy on the Internet regardless of what Google or the US government says. Anyone with valuable information (legal or not) that they don’t want shared should not post that information on the Internet in any way shape or form. Do you think Steve Jobs is posting iPhone schematics for “friends only” on Facebook?

  27. I would say that the warrantless wiretapping which was completely unnecessary and library records w/ gag orders are just a bit over the top. But hey maybe you like having your clearly spelled out Constitutional rights violated.

  28. Along with all the laws of the WWI, WWII eras, right?

    Or is there something special about the only-enemies-related “privacy violations” of the Patriot Act, as opposed to all incoming and outgoing phone calls and letters of the earlier (for the twits, WWI was almost entirely letters) eras [and most foreign communications in years since the late 1930’s, truth be known], that makes it especially bad?

    Uh huh.

  29. Just another reason why we need to ditch the patriot act, and try every politician who voted for it for treason.

  30. So they don’t deny the Patriot Act means all of our data (even non-US citizens’) can be handed over to the US government without warning?

  31. All your private information are belong to Google.

    Yes, that means their bots even cached the nudie pics you sent that 60 year old dude who was posing as a Playboy model and trying to get a date with you. Microwaving your hard drive cannot save you now. You are on the path to destruction.

  32. I don’t get it. Where is the wrath with every other telecom provider that you use well before you even get to Googleg{

  33. Schmidt is the one who made The unPatriotic Act the context, it was not part of the question. If Google was concerned about privacy they would be against the Patriot Act even if forced to comply with it but instead they use it as an excuse to further their business model.

  34. See, when we said *[<"people we burn in concentration camps"<]*, that was taken out of context. What we really said was *[<"Jews are the people we burn in concentration camps"<]*