Last week, Eric Schmidt, who is the CEO at Google, made some comments that raised more than a few eyebrows. During a recent interview with CNBC, Schmidt was asked whether it is a good idea for users to share their information with Google. His response was: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
While I can appreciate his intention, it is a pretty risky thing to say when you are the CEO of a search engine. His comments seem particularly unreasonable when you consider how upset Schmidt was when CNET reporters found out about his salary, donations and other personal information and included their findings in a published article.
In response to this, Schmidt blacklisted the reporters from Google. The ironic thing is that they obtained all of their information by searching Google.
Bruce Schneier, security technologist and author, has an well thought out response that’s worth reading. It touches on differences between “security versus privacy” and “liberty versus control”. In my opinion, privacy isn’t just about not sharing things that I’ve done wrong, but it can also be about ruining surprises, revealing embarrassing facts and other, more benign things. It isn’t just about things that we want to hide for fear of punishment. Look at Schmidt’s reaction to having his own information shared without his express permission. Not everyone wants the details of their salary known to everyone and why should they not have any control over that?
What do you think about what he said and how it relates to Google’s understanding of privacy?