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
    Dark Helmet (profile), 8 Dec 2009 @ 12:26pm

    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?"

    Well, the problem is that such a philosophy really can only work if those doing the enforcement are perfectly virtuous, which being human none of them are. What tends to scare the hell out of people is the extreme examples (Godwin alert!) in the Nazis or Mao Chinese. Was the average Jew doing anything wrong for which they were persecuted? Any reasonable person would say no. Did they have something to worry about with the invasion of their privacy by the government? Absolutely.

    Remember that the Nazis didn't decide to begin murdering millions of Jews overnight. It was a methodical, albeit relatively speedy, advance from milder forms of persecution, including: weapons registration and control, loss of benefits and lesser rights, loss of property rights, loss of representation in government, etc. etc. etc. In fact, many of these losses can be seen in America today.

    Now, I'm not necessarily saying that our government is on par with the Nazis (though both governments have historically been financed by many of the same people), but the simple answer to your question is evident in these examples: fear of invasion of privacy at the behest of law enforcement isn't because one has done something wrong, but because the government's analysis of what's wrong is unreasonable.

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