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WikiLeaker Assange, Google's Schmidt and a secret 5-hour chinwag

'We are obviously sympathetic' revealed in transcript

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Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt privately met WikiLeaker-in-chief Julian Assange while the computer hacker was holed up under strict bail terms.

Australia-born Assange™ was staying in Norfolk, England, at the time of the chat - while waiting to find out whether he would be extradited to Sweden to face questions over allegations of sexual coercion, sexual molestation and rape.

He has always denied any wrongdoing, and Swedish authorities have not laid out any charges against the 41-year-old. After losing his High Court appeal to stay in Britain, Assange later slipped his bail conditions and has since been bizarrely holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in Kinghtsbridge, London.

The WikiLeaks whistle-blowing website, founded by Assange, has this week leaked what is said to be a transcript of the pair's five-hour confab. The document was uploaded ahead of the publication of a book titled The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future that was co-authored by Google's Schmidt.

The search supremo wrote the book with Jared Cohen, who was also present at the meeting.

The transcript reveals the two men apparently weaving through a variety of topics from the outright inane to more gritty stuff about how WikiLeaks and Google shared some common problems with their technology.

At one point Schmidt flagged up to Assange reports that criticised WikiLeaks for failing to redact sensitive details in the thousands of US diplomatic cables the organisation leaked online.

Assange responded by pointing out how much information was subsequently redacted by news organs including The Guardian, which had struck a deal with WikiLeaks to publish the military intelligence cache. That agreement later turned sour, according to Assange:

And so you end up with a system of self-censorship and it is embarrassing to do it and so why tell the public that you are doing it, but you are not telling the public you are doing it so it gets easier and easier to do every time.

If we look at email. Who censors email? No one censors email! Look at a telephone call to your grandmother, is there a censor sitting there on the line determining whether you are about to say something bad to your grandmother and cutting it out? Of course not. The postal system. Are other people opening envelopes to see whether you are sending something bad? No. Youtube, apriori, is anyone sitting there reviewing every video before it is posted?

Schmidt replied that Google only reacted to troublesome videos shared on its service post publication.

"Let me give you the technical answer, just so you know it. We can't review every submission, so basically the crowd marks it if it is a problem," he said. Schmidt continued:

And what happens is the takedown of ... we get into trouble because various players want us to do pre-publication review. But with 48 hours of YouTube video coming in every minute, we can't mechanically do it.

So there is a ... so if someone posts something wrong or evil or violating a law, whatever, there is a gap, hopefully short, between the time that it is published, and marked for further review against our policies. And the policies are well specified in a document.

The full transcript of Schmidt's supposed encounter with Assange in 2011 can be viewed here. ®

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