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Google chief: Only miscreants worry about net privacy

'If you don't want anyone to know, don't do it'

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If you're concerned about Google retaining your personal data, then you must be doing something you shouldn't be doing. At least that's the word from Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place," Schmidt tells CNBC, sparking howls of incredulity from the likes of Gawker.

But the bigger news may be that Schmidt has actually admitted there are cases where the search giant is forced to release your personal data.

"If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines - including Google - do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities."

There's also the possibility of subpoenas. And hacks. But if any of this bothers you, you should be ashamed of yourself. According to Eric Schmidt.

Gawker highlights the irony of Schmidt's typically haughty proclamations. After all, this is the man who banned CNet for a year after the news site published information about him it had gleaned from, yes, Google.

But the larger point here is that Schmidt isn't even addressing the issue at hand. Per usual. When the privacy question appears, Google likes to talk about the people asking the questions. But the problem lies elsewhere: with the millions upon millions blissfully unaware of the questions.

If you're concerned about your online privacy, you can always put the kibosh on Google's tracking cookies. You can avoid signing in to Google accounts. And, yes, you can avoid using Google for anything Eric Schmidt thinks you shouldn't be doing. But most web users don't even realize Google is hoarding their data.

CNBC asks Schmidt: "People are treating Google like their most trusted friend. Should they be?" But he answers by scoffing at those who don't trust Google at all.

Not that you'd expect anything less. As always, Schmidt's holier-than-thou attitude is wonderfully amusing. Except that it's not. ®

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