Schmidt's 'Don't Do Stuff You Want To Keep Private' Sounds Like 'If You Aren't Doing Anything Wrong...'

from the you-sure-you-meant-that? dept

Over a decade ago, Sun founder Scott McNealy famously said "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." Apparently former McNealy protege, Eric Schmidt is now taking the same basic view in his current job as CEO of Google. In a recent interview he suggested that people pushing for privacy are the one's at fault:
"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."
This sounds suspiciously like a reheated version of "if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to worry about," that's trotted out by law enforcement types when pushing for stronger laws to violate individuals' privacy. It's an odd statement for someone like Schmidt to make, especially given the incredible level of scrutiny given to Google for the view it has into people's lives. To folks who are worried about such things, it sounds positively dismissive, which isn't the position that Google should be cultivating with those who are concerned right now. Furthermore, given Schmidt's own thin skin when reporters posted some personal info (found via Google to prove a point) that resulted in a "ban" on talking to reporters from CNET for a bit, it's really out of place.

Filed Under: eric schmidt, privacy

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  1. icon
    Robert Ring (profile), 8 Dec 2009 @ 12:48pm

    Politics vs. Morality vs. Practicality

    I haven't taken the time to read the above comments, but without giving this TOO much thought, this is how I see it: I think this philosophy can be good depending on its context.

    If you're talking about government oversight, it's one hundred-percent BAD. It leads ultimately to fascism. Let's get that out of the way.

    If you're talking everyday morality or practicality, though, I think it can be good advice. If you're doing something you'd be ashamed of others knowing you did, one of two problems probably exists with your action: Either (1) you shouldn't be doing what you're doing, or (2) you're embarrassed about who you are, which is not morally improper but psychologically unhealthy.

    As to the practicality of the statement, it makes sense in that virtually anything you do can be discovered by the world -- just by the nature of the society in which we live. Therefore, if there's something you don't want people to know you've done, you probably shouldn't do it because there's a good chance someone will find out.

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