back to article Google chief: Only miscreants worry about net privacy

If you're concerned about Google retaining your personal data, then you must be doing something you shouldn't be doing. At least that's the word from Google CEO Eric Schmidt. "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place," Schmidt tells CNBC, sparking howls of …


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  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    How original (not)

    Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

    Who would ever have thought of that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      World's Biggest Cyberstalker?

      "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place," said the peeping tom to the fifteen year old girl he'd secretly watched masturbating. [1]

      Is Google the world's biggest cyberstalker?

      [1] Before Schmidt decides to take legal action against me for this comment, let me state the following:-

      This comment is not intended to defame, libel or slander Eric Schmidt. I am not in any way saying, or implying, that Eric Schmidt is the peeping tom mentioned at the start of this comment. The peeping tom character is entirely fictional. The purpose of having that fictional peeping tom use the same words as Schmidt is to indicate how such an argument sounds when it's heard from someone who's regarded as a gross violator of personal privacy. I'm attacking the argument, not Eric Schmidt himself.

      If, despite this clarification, Eric Schmidt would still want to sue me: Google the "Streisand Effect" first, Eric.

    2. Inachu


      I want to break your glass house.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't wait for the first Google sex scandal to break

    last time I was at Mountain View the ballpits looked very suspicious indeed...

  3. Tony Paulazzo


    has to be a reciprocal event. If Google and the government want to know everything about me, then I should know everything about them. The problem (for me) isn't about my privacy, it's about their closely guarded secrets.

    Relationships are built on trust, an open and frank exchange of knowledge. Raw climate data, expenses, click ads, SEOs, national security, secrecy, torturing suspects, fostering a culture of fear and suspicion, etc.

    What they (and we all know who 'they' are), want, is a one sided, them calling the shots, position of dominance.

    That's why we (should) fight for our privacy. I'll be nakedly open with you when I trust you.

    And Google, how many Chinese dissidents have you given up to their government when asked, and for what purported crimes?

  4. Anonymous Coward


    So Eric Schmidt writes all of his snail-mail on the back of postcards, I assume? I mean, come on - otherwise he has something to hide, right?


  5. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Rage overwhelms rational, reasonable, and eloquent response.

    Eric Schmidt, go fuck yourself.

    Normally, I would not even post something like this; it is crass and unsophisticated. I would wait to let the anger subside. But I am not ashamed of myself for thinking it, nor for posting it. And now you can Google it.

    Paris, crass and unsophisticated.

    1. Dave Harris


      The phrase "Eric Schmidt, go fuck yourself" is currently a googlewhack.

      I wonder how long for after he comes out with shite like this.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    When they said "do no evil"...

    ... they meant you.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch
      Big Brother

      "do no evil" refers to you

      Always thought that myself whenever that catchprase comes up.

      Not AC, 'cos everybody's got something to hide...

      ... 'cept for my and my monkey...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Information asymmetry

    Schmidt can pull up your entire search history, yet you can't pull up his. It appears to me that the people who say this are always on the best side of information asymmetry.

    You see it with politicians too, they have their car number plates hidden, their emails protected by law, their childrens details withheld from Choicepoint, and presume (mistakenly) that their conversations are protected from warrant less search. When someone starts listing their home details, or their husbands video rentals and they freak. Why did they not protect others privacy???

    The Bernanke thing, he promises he'll tell congress how he's spent *their* bailout money, but then refuses to let them audit the Federal Reserve and starts talking like he's the elected president!... That's the power of information, how much is something worth? It depends on what Bernanke decides its worth, he talks that way, because that's the power that the information asymmetry gives him.

    Then there's the odd police thing, snap some undercover cops in Switzerland and it's an international incident, yet they snap you all the time.

    DNA won't be collected from Parliament, yet they statistically are more likely to match the unsolved crimes, than people who have been arrested and screened and found to be clean. As long as they believe the symmetry favours them,they are happy.

    Only an idiot insults a powerful person's incompetence then expects them to be fair when you deal with them. Ever talked shit to your boss? Was he nice at review time? Of course not!

    Yahoo doesn't want you to know what it charges the police to give them all your emails. You don't have secrets, but they don't want you to know they've kept all this info....

    All cases of people defending the informational asymmetry that gives them the edge, asserting that you must have something to hide if you disagree with THEM knowing that information.

    Me thinks they protest too much. BTW, what is Erics Schmidt's home address?

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Who is your Gauleiter (Gooleiter) now?

    "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"

    He's right. And Google can't tell you if they get an invitation by FBI to do so.

    Obama and Schmidt --- same powergrab.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The Patriot Act

      Was brought in by that bastion of freedom Dubya Bush.

      (American assistance: the above sentence is meant to be ironic - verging on sarcastic - the only freedom Bush protected was that of Halliburton et al)

      1. Mike Flugennock

        and Barack Obama...

        ...voted to extend the Patriot Act while in the Senate, and he supports its further extension now that he's in the White House -- not to mention trying to suppress lawsuits on behalf of Guantanamo detainees, or trying to suppress the further release of images of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib.

        Y'know, I really wish GWBush would wipe that goddamn' burnt cork off his face.

  9. Jeroen Braamhaar

    Google has gone off the trolley for serious now.


    If hiding means something you're doing something illicit, how come Google isn't publishing open and clear how Adsense works ?

    Why are their search protocols and algorithms burn-before-viewing secrets ?

    Does Mr. Schmidt live in a glass house allowing anyone and everyone film him at any time ?

    No ? Really not ? Seriously not ?

    Then I call "Pot Kettle Black" on him.

    If Google so believes that hiding is bad, maybe THEY should start being more transparent first.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    To summarize: "I'm right and almost everybody else in the world is wrong. Anybody who disagrees with me is a subversive and a criminal."

    Yes, Eric. That's nice. And if you could just put this jacket on. No that's the wrong way round. Yes, the sleeves are supposed to look like that. This is your room, the walls do look funny don't they. Now this is just a little injection and it won't hurt a bit...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It occurs to me...

    ...that I've never seen Steve Balmer and Eric Schmidt in the same room at the same time.

    Even Paris has more idea about what makes good PR.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's a little unsettling when corporate bullshit, which usually has its own distinctive aroma, starts to smell like Government bullshit instead.

  13. Conor Turton

    Anyone told Google that the Patriot Act...

    "we must remember that in the United States, we are all subject to the Patriot Act"

    I'm not in the USA. The Patriot Act has no meaning, relevence or ruling over me. Surely a company such as Google should be aware that they're accessible worldwide?

    1. R Callan
      Thumb Down

      Not only am I not in the US

      but I presume that Gooooooogle is conforming to The Privacy Act 1993. After all, we are all obliged to obey the "law", ignorance is no excuse. Herr Gauleiter Schmidt can find it with his own search engine to find the act.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unless you live in the UK

      In which case the USA will have you deported for any reason they desire and the UK government (y'know, the one that is supposed to protect you) will do fuck all to help.

      So if you live in the UK you are effectively subject to the Patriot Act.

  14. JC 2

    Starting To Stray From Do No Evil

    What would you expect to be the company line when they are really only in it for themselves? At least they're being honest about it now.

  15. asdf
    Thumb Down

    government sucks but google needs an antitrust smack down

    One of the first signs of a market abusing monopoly is arrogance such as this (the whole nobody can touch us attitude and we know better than you). Ask Bill Gates how far that attitude will take you when you piss off (don't give enough campaign hush money) the wrong person. Schmidt probably just cost his company big time and better learn to keep his inflatable hockey rink affording ass shut.

  16. Kanhef

    Interesting argument

    I have yet to see a good response to the 'if you want to hide it, you probably shouldn't do it' philosophical argument. Does anyone have a counter-argument?

    1. Matthew Barker

      An obvious one...

      You could reply with something like this:

      Why don't you (Eric Schmidt) plumb your toilet into the middle of your front lawn. Or perhaps your marital bed. Or perhaps use only a speaker phone attached to a PA system on your house, on your car, and on the outside of the Google building where you work.

      And what about your doctor doing a physical. It should also be done on in the front lawn...etc.

      1. Maty


        There's a difference between not wanting anyone to know and not wanting everyone to know.

        And I signed in with my gmail address ... oh, the irony!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You don't need a counter argument. It's already a counter argument. The argument is Google don't own that data, they haven't told users they're collecting that data and they have no right to that data. It's Schidt's schtick that's the counter argument and it's a very, very weak on indeed. He hasn't even begun to explain how it's his right to collect that data. Patriotic duty? Fuck that mate. US citizens may fall for that patriot crap, but in the free world things are a little different.

      If Google really believe Schidt's bull they would make it a clear opt in service. It isn't opt in, hell it isn't even easy to opt out. Let's be fair you can only opt out if you know what you're doing with cookies and the like. There is no official opt out. And people think Phorm were bastards?

      The only conclusion I can draw is that Google know what they are doing is wrong. And that Schidt's words sound like the desperate excuses of a man who knows he's in the wrong.

      As to the idea that shaping your search results will help you, that's crap. Google algorithms are already so heavily influenced by commerce that most of the time I find them no better than the post office clerk trying to sell me broadband and insurance when what I want is to post a parcel. You have to wade through lines, if not pages of partial matches before you find the page which contains an exact match for the phrase you types. Even if your phrase is the header of a particular page that doesn't stop Google sticking it on page three of your results because they *know* that isn't what you were really looking for. Guess what Google - that's what I typed so that's exactly what I was looking for. Shaping your results based on your browsing history will only give them another excuse to weight their results even more in favour of advertisers.

      And if you're so sure that you believe in the "nothing" to hide argument, Kanhef, publish your unabridged surfing history for the last few years so we can all have a read.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You might want to try "'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy" by Daniel J. Solove at the George Washington University Law School. He seems to have several.

    4. Anonymous Coward


      "I have yet to see a good response to the 'if you want to hide it, you probably shouldn't do it' philosophical argument. Does anyone have a counter-argument?"

      Here you are looking at it all wrong... It should be "If you are willing to let people look - you are probably not doing any thing illegal". The counter argument - "if you want to hide it, you probably shouldn't do it" - is nonsense. The reality is if you want to hide it - it might mean that you just want to be left alone.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Here's your counter-argument

      The law of averages states that there is almost certainly a member of Al-Quaeda, the Russian Mafia or a peadophile working somewhere at Google. Do you want to give them free access to all your personal details, your daughter's emails, when your house will be empty etcetc?

    6. Shannon Jacobs

      Argument against

      Posted after your query, but the short form is that sufficient knowledge about you can be turned against you. My long post is below you, but I'll add one more wrinkle I didn't mention there: With sufficient knowledge about you I can frame you even if you are Caesar's wife. (Icon for planting evidence in your coat after finding out where you tend to leave it.)

    7. Count Ludwig
      Big Brother

      if you have nothing to hide...

      ...then why do you have curtains in your bedroom?

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thanks for asking..

      How about,

      I'm a free man and what I'm doing is none of your business.

    9. Anonymous Coward

      Any old title

      I'm a scambaiter, and certainly not ashamed of it. For safety reasons, I don't use my real life email address for the purpose.

      yes I do have something to hide, but no because I'm doing something wrong.

    10. Sir Runcible Spoon
      Black Helicopters

      here's one counter-argument

      I like to wank off into a sock whilst watching autopsies.

      Did you want to know that? No? Perhaps I shouldn't have said it, after all, it's private.

      It's also a lie, did I want you to know that? No, so why did I say it?


      <knock-knock> hmm, someone at the door, be right ba..

      Sometimes people like to keep things hidden because they are embarrassing, or perhaps certain information in certain hands would be compromising as they would use it to disciminate against you. There is nothing illegal about wanting your privacy, so why insinuate that there is? Sounds like a straw-man argument to me.

    11. Claus P. Nielsen

      If you truly have nothing to hide you are probably dead.

      Anything of any worth to you is worth protecting.

      If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing of any worth.

      Since most of us are not all powerful, we can not defend our possessions (or even our lives) against all and any people who might want to take it away from us.

      So we hide it.

      If you think you have nothing to hide you are stupid and will soon have much less to hide since somebody will steal what you have.


      The "nothing to hide" argument can be interpreted as racist, since it implies that any victim of persecution - such as the Jews during the Nazi regime - must per definition be guilty of something. Why else would they be hiding from the authorities?

    12. Annihilator

      A fair question

      For now we'll assume we live in the same wonderful USA where this Schmidt bell-end lives. Take a look at (not least) the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and to an extent 9th amendment in the constitution this United States governement is sworn to uphold... or so we're told. America! (we love you) (with apologies to Slim)

      In the UK, there's again no specific law, but a multitude:

    13. James Thomas

      Why don't you show us your porn Eric?

      There is also the problem that society at large often has a peculiar distaste for many things that aren't 'normal', particularly in the bedroom and particularly in America.

      Given the persecution people get for things like homosexuality this sort of privacy is a necessary human right.

    14. Jimmy 1

      Proud to be a miscreant.

      This is not a philosophical argument; it's a slogan and therefore does not need to be countered, just ridiculed for its inane stupidity. See for similar content.

    15. Anonymous Coward

      Oh that's easy

      At election time, why am I allowed a secret ballot?

    16. Anonymous Coward

      Utter bollocks

      "I have yet to see a good response to the 'if you want to hide it, you probably shouldn't do it' philosophical argument. Does anyone have a counter-argument?"

      I have to pay my bills and I don't want others to see what companies I'm using or how much. Economic transactions render this argument obsolete.

      Schmidt isn't telling how much he's paid,either, so the argument is false even for himself (for anybody, everyone has something to hide).

  17. Avian


    this turns out to be a "Ratner" moment, I doubt it will but there's always the hope.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have an idea

    You could force a new IP address onto each connection each night (like the Germans do, they drop the connection at about 2am and assign a new one from the pool). The ISP that does this keeps the IP logs for 3 months.

    If you want to know who had what IP address at any time, you have to go file your demand in Germany in accordance with German law where the ISP is. Which makes sense since they're Germans and can vote for German laws, not US ones (like Patriot).

  19. Graham Marsden



  20. Paul RND*1000
    Big Brother

    Things you shouldn't be doing?

    "If you're concerned about Google retaining your personal data, then you must be doing something you shouldn't be doing."

    Yes, I am concerned about Google retaining my personal data.

    Yes, I'm doing something I should not be doing.

    I'm using services provided by Google. Which clearly I should not be doing. I should stop right away. You should, too.

    Unfortunately everyone offering alternative services must be assumed to be equally evil, though at least they're not being self-righteous pricks about it while desperately pretending to absolutely not be evil.

  21. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Sauce for goose = sauce for gander

    OK Google. You have my data.

    Can I have yours?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Seems to me..

      you're not gonna do too well with that negotiatiing technique.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First they came for the communists...

    Everyone has something they don't want someone to know... except me of course, so I don't have to worry!

  23. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Easy answer, and I told you so..

    I would like Mr Schmidt to tell me exactly how much he earns, and what he spends it on. And what his kids do with their money. And which position him and his wife prefer in bed.

    No? Why? Nothing to hide? QED, thus.

    Funny that it was only yesterday that I had so many people tell me I was paranoid about Google. Did it really take a senior pr*ck to pull a Ratners to open your eyes? Well, I'm glad it did at least happen in the end.

    Just think before you make ANY, repeat, ANY information available to the Net, as that has no "undo" button.

  24. Shannon Jacobs

    Google went evil or stupid

    The argument that Google has gone evil is just that the rules of capitalism are now set up so that every company is basically forced in that direction. Otherwise the shareholders get to sue you for insufficient greed.

    The argument that Google has gone stupid is that it does NOT matter at all what you are doing. The point is that knowledge is power, and sufficient personal knowledge is power over the person. Even if you are purer than Caesar's wife, with enough personal knowledge you can be twisted or even flipped. Maybe you've never done anything wrong, but surely you have some weakness that could be tempted, if I only knew what it was. Heck, even if you have no weakness, with sufficient knowledge of your strengths I bet I could find some way to exploit at least one of your own strengths AGAINST you. No one is perfect, and anyone can be cracked. It's just a matter of resources--and especially the resource that is knowledge of the person. (No, I can't buy any claim of naivete in this case, even Google-sized naivete.)


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