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
    R. Miles (profile), 9 Dec 2009 @ 4:16am

    Re: The Eternal Value of Privacy

    A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call out privacy as an explicit right.
    A very well written reply to the issue and almost came close to wanting to frame it myself, until this popped up and reared its ugly head.

    As I continued reading, I was hoping this would be addressed further, but unfortunately, it was not.

    I completely agree there is need for privacy, but to call it a right is becomes questionable when such activity is placed outside the scope of the definition.

    We expect privacy of a phone conversation, but it is foolish to think it's a right to have when the conversation takes place where privacy isn't guaranteed.

    Recently, Mike wrote about his issue at having his VPN blocked by Hulu. Is this privacy a right or an expectation?

    The very scope of which one expects privacy often gets confused with "public domain". Privacy is no longer afforded people when such actions by these people rely, unsuspecting, on the network's infrastructure to deliver said private data.

    A very, very limited example of this is writing a letter, applying a wax seal on this letter, then handing it to a courier for delivery in which the recipient should expect an unbroken seal.

    The very moment the letter was not personally delivered to the recipient, the expectation of privacy is entrusted to someone else.

    I would suspect every person who has expects privacy is completely foolish to rely on others to deliver it without incident.

    I concur with the statement in that one who uses an infrastructure to send private information has lost all rights to said privacy when such actions were foolish to begin with to not deliver the information themselves.

    Yes, this means if you send credit card information over the web, and the information is violated, your expectations of privacy were not met but you were completely foolish to think it wouldn't be.

    We take great care as to not release our information based on perception and it takes those willing to risk lost information to secure our beliefs the system is less risky, though never 100% safe.

    We don't ever think our privacy will be abused by Amazon.com, as an example, but will get completely upset if we find it has. Data breaches are another example of this, to which people insist this data be kept private, but fails to understand why it never is.

    I did enjoy the "bathroom" reference. We can safely say our use of the bathroom in our home is justified to be surveillance free and it's completely justified to challenge this type of surveillance.

    But it is not justified to argue this if cameras are placed in the bathrooms of department stores. We expect them not to be there, but we shouldn't get upset if they are.

    This is where the statement comes into play, in that you have no privacy when you're in "public". Sure, it's going to really piss you off if the video of you using the restroom is thrown onto YouTube because of a privacy breach, but it's rather foolish for you to have thought there wasn't a chance it could happen.

    Of course, we can't be expected to remain in our homes 100% of the time, so rely on the fact once you step out of your home or send stuff from your home, there's no such thing as privacy.

    Realize this now, because it's true. Our forefathers most certainly knew of this, even while framing the constitution. Spies were used during war, and spies are the crowning definition of the destroyer of expected privacy.

    I'm sorry many of you feel this position is wrong, but I'm not the one who placed you in it.

    Think about this:
    -When someone asks you for your SSN which has nothing to do with your benefits.
    -When someone requests they pull your credit report when not lending you money
    -When someone requests your medical history and they're not a physician
    -When someone calls you on the phone

    Privacy is just as much an impossibility as is anonymous data. Ironically, most anonymous data contains private data we expect never to be breached.

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