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Google CEO Schmidt: Google Implants Aren’t Ready Yet

Oct 26, 20106 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

Google CEO Schmidt advises that you can move if you don't like your home being on Street View, but don't worry cause he also says a Google implant into your brain does cross the creepy line, "at least for the moment until the technology gets better."

Google CEO Schmidt advises that you can move if you don’t like your home being on Street View, but don’t worry cause he also says a Google implant into your brain does cross the creepy line, “at least for the moment until the technology gets better.”

Schmidt was interviewed on CNN’s Parker Spitzer. In the video below, Parker asked about Google’s access to Gmail, to prescriptions, to Street View. “You can come straight to my house if you want to. You can show the street I live on. You know a lot about me if you want to,” she stated.

The billionaire executive replied, “And we’ve decided to not cross that line. So for example, Street View. We drive exactly once,” Schmidt said. “So, you can just move, right?” He added, “The important point is that we only do it once. This is not a monitoring situation. And the satellites, what happens is we actually have a delay from satellite images that we do for the same reason. So we are very careful not to have real time information of where people are. Any kind of real time information would have be discoverable from the searches.”

Careful not to have real time location information? You mean like Google Latitude, Google’s Geolocation API, detecting your location, or Google patenting a System for Automatically Integrating a Digital Map System? You better believe Google knows your location whether or not you “granted” permission for that privacy invasion. When Google scans your email, it may or may not reveal your location depending what you write.

After the CNN interview with Schmidt, security researcher Christopher Soghoian blogged, “Eric Schmidt’s statements that the company has to retain search data because of EU law are simply bogus….It is completely false to say that after a year/year and a half, Google ‘forgets’ searches…. The company never deletes or ‘forgets’ users’ searches. It merely deletes a little bit of data that associates the searches to known Google users. For those of you who may be inclined to give Schmidt the benefit of the doubt, regarding the difference between ‘forgetting’ searches, and deleting a couple bits of an IP address in a log, remember that Schmidt has a PhD in computer science.”

During an interview with The Altlantic, Google Chief Economist Hal Varian suggested Google, or somebody else, will create Google implants within 10 years. He’s ready for his implant and to become cyborg-like.

Yet, in the video below, when The Atlantic interviewed Google CEO Eric Schmidt and asked about the possibility of a Google implant, Schmidt stated, “There is what I call the creepy line. And the Google policy about a lot of these things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it. I would argue that implanting things in your brain is beyond the creepy line. At least for the moment until the technology gets better.”

Google has crossed the creepy line, many times over now. Recently, 240,000 Germans asked to keep their homes or businesses off Google Street View. And that was before Google finally admitted that while Street View Cars were Wi-Spying, they captured entire emails, passwords and URLS. Britain immediately launched an investigation for the “gross invasion of privacy” for which Google may face landmark fines. It’s hard to keep up with Google’s versions of the truth, since Google first denied Wi-Spying gathered any data, but then they said they only gather data fragments, but now they got it all. You can “just move” if you don’t like it. Google Tidbits points out, that Google will no longer capture Wi-Fi data while Wi-Spy driving. “Instead it’ll get it from Android and Chrome users.”

Google has played this game to mislead the public before. To create stronger privacy controls after Google’s Wi-Fi fiasco, Google booted Alma Whitten up in title to “director of privacy across both engineering and product management.” However, Whitten had been with Google since 2003. In 2008, Whitten blogged that your network IP address is not private identifying information. Many sites, including Cnet, thoroughly debunked that. As Google’s lead Privacy Engineer, Whitten told Forbes, “Privacy is alive and well. At Google, we’re working to keep it that way.” In Ars Technica’s Why Google keeps your data forever, tracks you with ads, Whitten stressed “with pride” that Google doesn’t leak data. “We’re not holding onto this frivolously,” Whitten said. “It’s fundamental to bring value to our users.” She tried to explain why Google’s “don’t be evil” slogan was true.

I hope she can help protect our privacy, but in July, while Alma Whitten was the lead Privacy Engineer at Google, she testified before a Senate hearing on consumer online privacy about the Google Wi-Fi “incident” (pages 11-12). “When mistakes occur, companies ought to continue providing that transparency – as Google did here even in the absence of any breach of personal data – by quickly and simply disclosing what occurred, any risk posed to users, and how users can mitigate that risk.”

Google seems to be really creepy, really scary, and perhaps really evil. I get a chill every time Google CEO Eric Schmidt expresses his vision for us. After Schmidt’s infamous quote, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” you’d think he’d stop to think PR before he opens his mouth. In the last year, Google CEO Schmidt proclaimed that no anonymity is the future of web. He also suggested that what people really want is for “Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” WSJ reported that “Google knows, to within a foot, where you are.” Since Google has collected unlimited information about you, “we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.” Schmidt stated that young people will change their name to escape what they or someone else posted about them on social media. He even admitted that Google could do many things, but currently chooses not to (be evil). Schmidt said, “One day we had a conversation where we figured we could just try to predict the stock market. And then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that.”

Maybe Schmidt is joking, but the loss of privacy is not the least bit funny. I can’t believe that I used to love Google; now “I’m feeling lucky” Google hasn’t attempted to implant a Google chip in my brain yet. Come on, Microsoft; I really need Bing to be as good, if not better, at search results than Google.

image sources 1, 2

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.