Google’s Eric Schmidt Says, “Would You Prefer The US Government to Make Those (Online Privacy) Decisions?”

Submitted by lalit on June 1, 2011 - 6:55pm.

Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher interviewed Eric Schmidt at the D9 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California on May 31st. Eric gave some interesting answers to the snarky questions Walt and Kara asked, but his one answer shocked me. The discussion went like this:

Walt: Should we all in this room be comfortable that you and the people around you know so much about us? Don't you know too much about us?
Eric: Would you prefer the US government to make those decisions? If you spend time with the government, you may find you want a private company to make those decisions.
Walt: Hang on, it's easy to take a shot at the government...
Eric: Wait a minute...
Walt: No, but the government is elected. So why wouldn't we want to have lawmakers rule on something and set a rule? Maybe we should have a debate about what makes sense to the public.
Eric: We're in favor of that approach...
Walt: You're in favor of a federal law?
Eric: Well... privacy is a compromise between private businesses and private citizens.

If privacy is a compromise, why would I – a private citizen, allow a company that is benefitting from that compromise to make the decisions or rules about my privacy? A private company replies to its shareholders and not to the public, there is no guarantee about how they will use our data when it comes to their bottom-line. The only thing stopping these companies from using our data wrongly would be a law put in place to protect our data and privacy.

By the end of the talk about privacy Eric jumped back on the open platform and democracy bandwagon, when pushed in the corner by Kara and Walt about privacy. I agree that Internet should remain open, but I don’t think a person’s privacy is an open platform or a compromise for Google to decide on.

Check out the two videos below, Eric talks about privacy in the first video and the second is highlights of the complete interview.
[Via This is my next and All Things D]