This is an excerpt from the article... (My comments follow.)
You Have Zero Privacy Anyway -- Get Over It
posted by David Adams on Fri 11th Dec 2009 01:25 UTC
[Google CEO Eric ] Schmidt said: "I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. 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."
I think the portion of that statement that's sparked the most outrage is the "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place" part. That's a colossally boneheaded thing to say, and I'll bet Schmidt lives to regret being so glib, if he didn't regret it within minutes of it leaving his mouth. As many people have pointed out, there are a lot of things you could be doing or thinking about that you don't want other people to be watching or to know about, and that are not the least bit inappropriate for you to be doing, such as using the toilet, trying to figure out how to cure your hemorrhoids, or singing Miley Cyrus songs in the shower.
Schmidt's quote deserves a variation on the Fortune Cookie treatment - adding "on line" to the end of the "colossally boneheaded thing to say". Schmidt is absolutely right to suggest that "...maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place" + "on line". Conversely David Adams' argument that "there are lots of things you could be doing" might well be treated in a similar fashion...
- "...using the toilet" + "on line" ??? (I say that if this is your personal practice then your judgement is questionable to begin with.)
- "...how to cure your hemorrohoids" + "on line" ??? (Shouldn't you be discussing this with your doctor - a conversation that is protected by Doctor-Patient confidentiality?)
- "..singing Miley Cyrus songs in the shower" + "on line" ??? (See my first point.)