Tag Archives: Google

Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google: “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”


Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, has described his company’s policy: “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”

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Schmidt was talking to The Atlantic about the possibility of a Google implant – a chip under your skin that would track you and provide easy web access. That, Schmidt said, was probably over ‘the creepy line’.

However, he followed that by saying: “With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches. We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

Some might argue that that is over the line too but Google will only read your mind “with your permission”, so that’s a relief.

Schmidt has a history of attention-grabbing and quotable statements about Google’s increasing, err, creep into our lives. There was the time that he said: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Recently he has suggested that young people might in future change their names so as to escape their Google-able past.

Last month he muttered cryptically about having “other ways” to get access to Facebook’s data should the social network decline to let Google index it.

Schmidt’s comments often sound like those of a man speaking off the cuff, and perhaps saying a little more than he should. Maybe that’s what they are but I’m not sure. I spent some time with Schmidt earlier this year and since then I’ve heard him repeat in other interviews – almost word-for-word – answers that he gave me. I think Schmidt has thought very carefully about these issues and he’s very clear on the message he wants to give.

Google makes some wonderful products. I use many of them, including Gmail, Google Reader and, of course, search. However, their attitude towards our private data is a cause for concern, not least because Google tends to make its services ‘opt-out’, rather than ‘opt-in’, which means that the permission Schmidt talks about will be given implicitly.

While Google is honest about wanting to “get right up to the creepy line”, it would also suit them if that line could be pushed ever further back. Schmidt’s comments play a tiny role in helping that process along. I would bet that in a decade the line will have been pushed even further. In the meantime, though, there will be a lot more court challenges and protests as Google slowly gets its way.

It’s tempting to suggest that Eric Schmidt should keep quiet instead of stirring people up every few months but I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.

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Google, CIA are backing a company that monitors the web in real time.


By Noah Shachtman

The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future.

The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”

The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online “momentum” for any given event.

“The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases,” says company CEO Christopher Ahlberg, a former Swedish Army Ranger with a PhD in computer science.

Which naturally makes the 16-person Cambridge, Massachusetts, firm attractive to Google Ventures, the search giant’s investment division, and to In-Q-Tel, which handles similar duties for the CIA and the wider intelligence community.

It’s not the very first time Google has done business with America’s spy agencies. Long before it reportedly enlisted the help of the National Security Agency to secure its networks, Google sold equipment to the secret signals-intelligence group. In-Q-Tel backed the mapping firm Keyhole, which was bought by Google in 2004 — and then became the backbone for Google Earth.


37 states join probe into Google Wi-Fi data collection.


July 21, 2010 |  1:46 pm

A multistate investigation is raising more questions about how Google Inc. may have improperly gathered people’s private information through their unsecured wireless networks while collecting data for its Street View feature.

Connecticut Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal, who has been leading the month-old investigation, sent a third letter to Google on Wednesday asking, among other things, whether it had tested the feature’s software before putting it to use. Doing so, he said, should have uncovered any glitches responsible for the unwarranted collection of e-mails, passwords and other personal data of those who failed to protect their networks with passwords.

“Google’s responses continue to generate more questions than they answer,” he said in a statement. “Now the question is how it may have used — and secured — all this private information.”

Blumenthal, who is running for Sen. Christopher J. Dodd’s seat, also said that attorneys general from 37 states and the District of Columbia have officially joined the probe, including those from Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Massachusetts. Eight states would not be identified because their laws bar them from disclosing investigations, he said.

The office of California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown has not yet responded to a question about whether the state is a participant.

“As we’ve said before, it was a mistake for us to include code in our software that collected payload data, but we believe we did nothing illegal,” a spokesperson for Mountain View, Calif.-based Google said in a statement. “We’re continuing to work with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns.”…continue to original article.