DailyTech – Concerned About Privacy? You’re Probably up to no Good, Says Google CEO

DailyTech – Concerned About Privacy? You’re Probably up to no Good, Says Google CEO.

Remarks anger many who are concerned with Google’s ever expanding influence

Google is stockpiling a wealth of user data.  With its search engine, its advertising services, its applications, its new free DNS service, and more, the company has an incredible perspective on exactly what users are looking at.  Many fear that Google could abuse this information or allow it to be abused, either for profit or to prosecute citizens who aren’t necessarily guilty. In short, fears that “Big Brother is watching you” have been replace with fears that “Google is watching you”.

Google’s recently responded to such doubts, blasting those that would harbor them.  Google CEO Eric Schmidt commented to CNBC, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

He also admitted that Google does sometimes release its users’ private data, stating, “If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines – including Google – do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”

Taken by itself, this comment seems pretty reasonable.  Yahoo’s Law Enforcement guide offers similar comments, indicating that law enforcement officials must ask within 45 days and come bearing a 2703(d) order to access users’ instant messenger logs.  However, there is an expedited process if there’s “imminent danger of death or serious physical injury.”

The more troublesome comment is Mr. Schmidt’s indictment of those who wish privacy.  One must also consider Mr. Schmidt’s own demands for personal privacy.  Mr. Schmidt banned CNET, one of the top tech news sites on the web, from Google for an entire year for publishing information about the CEO, including his salary; his neighborhood, some of his hobbies and political donations.  Where did CNET find this info?  From none other than Google itself.

In total, the comments paint what is perhaps an alarming picture, when you consider that even large companies have been subject to hacks, data leaks, and subpoenas.  While some may indeed want to cover up their “evil” actions, others may seek privacy to hide persecution at work over medical conditions, or to protect their business from competitors who could seek to use inside info to gain an unfair advantage.  In short, while Mr. Schmidt may consider privacy a luxury a privacy that citizens don’t need, it’s essential to many.

The CNBC‘s Maria Bartiromo, who has interviewed Mr. Schmidt before in the past, asks tough but fair questions, like “People are treating Google like their most trusted friend. Should they be?”

Mr. Schmidt’s responses indicate a clear disregard for consumer privacy.  At the same time his company has fought deals like the Microsoft-Yahoo partnership complaining that they provide an unfair competitive advantage and possibly endanger consumers’ privacy.  And he has fought equally hard to protect his own privacy.

A clip of the interview can be viewed at Gawker.

Does Networking Matter?

Networking is not my thing.  I’ve never seen much point in it…until recently.  I’ve always reserved networking for other people.  People who are important.  People who are name droppers.  I am neither, so why bother?  A few months ago, networking just happened to me, and I realized it’s usefulness. 

I was Facebook friends with a gal I’d met through the Ron Paul Campaign.  She was trying to start her own photography business and I needed pictures.  Perfect!  She came out to College Station and we had a photo shoot.  In course of our conversations, she invited me and another person to assist her on a photo shoot in Las Vegas.  How fun!  I was sold.  In Vegas, I met the women who would form LOLA – the Ladies of Liberty Alliance,  volunteered at the Campaign for Liberty booth, and heard some great speakers.  Of course, we had a little fun.  It’s Vegas, baby!  I returned home with new Facebook friends and a few extra friends in my Mafia Wars mafia.  End of story, right?  Not at all!  A few months later, I was asked to help with a Campaign for Liberty project.  Because I was special or had some amazing notoriety, right?  (This is where you laugh hysterically.)  Nope.  They had met me in Vegas and needed someone from Texas.  An opportunity dropped in my lap because I networked without even realizing it.

Lately, a team of us have been working to end Photo Enforcement in College Station, TX.  Red Light Cameras, you mean?  That’s what photo enforcement looks like today in College Station, but we wanted to keep out all future types of photo enforcement.  Talk about needing a network!  Bloggers, press contacts, elected officials, lawyers, graphic artists, and  boots-on-the-ground folks.  

If you’re shy about networking, get over it!  Print up some business cards so people can contact you.  You never know when you’re knowledge or experience could help a fellow activist.  Networking doesn’t mean you’re arrogant or self-absorbed.  You don’t have to drop all the names of the important people you’ve met.  But knowing them may come in handy one day!