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. identicon
    Urza9814, 8 Dec 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Some help please.

    "Okay, so I have to ask because I seriously don't know, but what's wrong (if anything at all) with the "If you aren't doing anything wrong..." argument?"

    Just look back a couple articles on Techdirt....
    http://techdirt.com/articles/20091206/1142187219.shtml

    Besides, just because I'm not doing anything wrong that doesn't mean I want everyone in the world to know what I'm doing. Have you never hid anything from, say, your parents? I mean I'm not doing anything wrong when I'm alone with my girlfriend, but that doesn't mean I want my _mom_ knowing all the details of what we do (we're 20 btw). Or either of our previous partners for that matter. Just because there's nothing wrong with, say, looking at porn, that doesn't mean you want your grandma to know you do it.

    And to move a bit further, what if, for example, you're gay? Yes, some people want to broadcast that to the entire world, and that's fine. But others don't. What if you're gay in a very conservative town? In a strict Muslim nation? What if you're a whistleblower? What if you're trying to start a union? Hell I've run into plenty of problems trying to start a drug policy reform group on a rather conservative campus - it's not illegal at all, but still at least 90% of the people who walk up and say they support us refuse to sign up for our mailing list or come to meetings because they're afraid they'll be denied a job later because of it.

    Just because your actions are legal does not mean you want them public. And just because you aren't ashamed of them does not mean you want everyone in the world to know about it.

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