Feeds

Schmidt: 'Elites' not 'common men' fret over net privacy

Why Google needs a nanny

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

In the end, Eric Schmidt can't help but undermine his own defense of Google's data collection and retention policies.

Speaking with The London Evening Standard this week, Google's executive chairman and former CEO said that "elites" are more concerned with what data Google retains than "the common man". The implication was that the so-called "elites" have blown the issue out of proportion, but his words only highlight how big the issue really is.

It's true. "The common man" doesn't care. But this is because the common man doesn't realize his data is being retained.

Schmidt said Google "fully discloses" its data retention policies. "In Google's case, we solve that problem in respect of log retention... So your searches - and again this is all very fully disclosed - are kept for 12 to 18 months in a complex series of ways, and after that, we anonymize them," he told The Evening Standard. But the common man is none the wiser.

At Google, data retention is very much an opt-out situation, and most people have no idea their searches remain on Google's servers for so long. And opting out isn't exactly easy.

Schmidt speaks of Google "solving" the log retention problem. It's not solved, and what Google has done, it only did under pressure. The company adjusted its retention policies only after complaints from elites at the EU. Previously, your search data was set to remain untouched on the company's servers in perpetuity.

During his trip to London this week, Schmidt also spoke at a Google-sponsored privacy event, and according to our man on the ground, the irrepressible Eric made a point of saying that the world's governments should let net companies regulate themselves when it comes to privacy. But if governments had left Google to its own devices, data retention would be a far greater problem than it is today.

According to The Evening Standard, Schmidt supported his argument about data retention and the common man with a mention of Google Street View in Germany. Street View sparked complaints mong the elites in Germany, Schmidt apparently argued, and yet the service is "overwhelmingly" popular there. His argument is a bit muddled – Street View is very different from search log retention – but Schmidt does succeed in highlighting another example of Google pushing the limits of privacy until someone finally gives the people the right to push back.

After government complaints, Google agreed to let German residents opt-out of having their buildings appear online, and nearly 250,000 German households and businesses asked to have their building blurred. At that London event this week, our man reported, Schmidt said the "customer" should decide how the customer's data is used. The customer should. And that's why we need a higher power ensuring that Google doesn't make those decisions on its own. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.