Google's Schmidt: Privacy Criticism Misinformed, Happy to Talk to Government


Schmidt: We Are Happy to Talk to the Government

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt on the government’s investigation into its privacy policies and push for legislation on intellectual property on the Internet.

Google on Tuesday announced that it is combining the currently-separate privacy policies for its multitude of online products into one single document to govern them all, sparking concern from lawmakers in Washington.  The update will also let the search giant aggregate user data across all of these products, ostensibly to help it better target ads to users.

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"The current criticism is a little bit misinformed," Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) executive chairman Eric Schmidt said on Friday, commenting on lawmakers eyeing the company's recently overhauled privacy policy.

Giving FOX Business his first reaction to Congress's worries, Schmidt said, "What we did with our privacy policy is that we updated it to reflect the reality of the products we're building and what customers really want.  And the great thing about it is the privacy is incredibly clear as to what your rights are and what information we can use and in many cases you can control the information."

Asked whether Google will remain a place of anonymous search, as people use it for very private and personal things, Schimdt told FBN's Liz Claman at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, "It will, and remember that anonymous search is at the core of people looking up information."  He then pointed to Google's Chrome browser with its "incognito mode," which he said prevents it from sending any information to anyone while you're browsing the web.

Schimdt called the criticism of the new privacy policy a bit misinformed because of the way he feels Google makes it "very easy for you to be very private."  Indeed, he welcomed a Congressional inquiry, saying "the facts will support that we're doing the right thing for consumers."

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Not everyone is as comfortable with the new policy, however.  Tech expert John Quain in a column on Wednesday pointed out a 2009 quote by Schmidt that seems to articulate a different position on privacy.  In that TV interview he said, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."  He later backtracked on the statement.

"If it's illegal for the government to secretly track you," Quain said, "why isn't it illegal for businesses to do it?"

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