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Only naughty people should be afraid of Google, says CEO Eric Schmidt

If there was ever a sign that tech companies are often run by mad-hatter evangelists, this is it: Eric Schmidt, Google's illustrious and incredibly successful CEO has finally spoken out about our continued concerns of privacy. And he isn't being gentle about it either. "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place," Schmidt said in an interview with CNBC.

In a self-righteous and condescending way, he is right. As long as you're trying to avoid time in jail. The problem is, most of us aren't criminals. Most of us aren't Googling for child pornography or furry snuff films. The vast majority of the Internet is comprised of innocent and hapless bystanders, logging into MSN Messenger or Facebook to chat with family and friends, or whiling away the hours on FarmVille.

They're not doing anything wrong, but does that make it OK to collect vast quantities of data about them? It is Google's livelihood, to match ads to its users -- but most of us don't know that. Our mothers and fathers don't know that those ads on Facebook or Google are specifically tailored to them. Their entire history of surfing on the Web, processed, boiled down and condensed into a little box of text.

In my mind, it's like someone hiring a private investigator to follow you. Even if you don't do anything illegal while under their surveillance, does that make it OK? Google is always pretty evasive when it comes to the issue of privacy, and Eric Schmidt's stunning statement certainly won't help allay our growing concerns.

At the time of publishing I haven't been able to find a video of the full interview on CNBC, but there's a short 30-second clip over on Gawker.

[via The Register]

Tags: cookies, Eric Schmidt, EricSchmidt, google, Internet, privacy, security