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Google CEO Retracts Street View Privacy Joke

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 30 comments

Uh oh, Eric Schmidt has put his foot in it again.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt was yesterday forced to apologize for remarks made during an interview with CNN. While discussing how much information Google stores about its users, Kathleen Parker asked Schmidt about Street View and was taken aback by his response.

"Google can do Street Views. You can see where I live, you can come straight to my house if you want to. You could show the street I live on. You can know a lot about me if you want to," Parker said.

Schmidt's reply to this statement is what's caused so much controversy. The Google CEO told Parker that if she didn't want to be on Street View, she could just move.

"So, for example, Street View, we drive by exactly once. So, you can just move, right?" the CEO said, appearing completely serious about his sentiments.

"I can move? Well, that's a lot of trouble! [Laughs]"

"I know, I know" Schmidt conceded. "The important thing is, we only do it once. This is not a monitoring situation. And with satellites, what happens is, we actually have a delay, so we're very careful not to have real time information."

Now Schmidt has issued a retraction, claiming he misspoke:

"As you can see from the unedited interview, my comments were made during a fairly long back and forth on privacy. I clearly misspoke. If you are worried about Street View and want your house removed please contact Google and we will remove it."

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Eric has had to explain comments made during interviews. He recently suggested that in the future children may be able to change their names to escape embarrassing online activity associated with their real name. Before that, in yet another discussion about privacy, Schmidt was slated for telling NBC:

"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

Yes, Eric Schmidt has proven on numerous occasions that his loose lips are a PR person's nightmare. He's not the only CEO to make stupid comments about user privacy, but he's probably the worst person who could make such statements. While Mark Zuckerberg has made dubious comments about Facebook user privacy in the past, it's important to remember his remarks were made in private when Facebook was just for Harvard students. Not only is Google exponentially bigger than Facebook was back in the day, but Schmidt is making these remarks to journalists from big publications, and on television. Is it really that hard for him to stick to something along the lines of, "The privacy of our users is of paramount importance"?

[Update] Updated to include the actual video clip of the interview.

Eric Schmidt @ Parker/Spitzer (CNN) : "Move"

Source: CNet, Gawker

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  • 23 Hide
    jossrik , October 28, 2010 2:06 AM
    Sounds to me like he was obviously having a little fun, which everyone should be allowed to do. I don't know how long the interview was, or the rapport he had with the interviewer. Sounds kinda like he said a joke, then said no seriously, it's not really that big of an issue.


    I'm a PC, and windows ME was my idea. In retrospect, I probably should have kept it to myself.
  • 11 Hide
    Parsian , October 28, 2010 2:41 AM
    People should ACCEPT that once they are on the internet, there is no classical privacy
  • 10 Hide
    mayne92 , October 28, 2010 3:34 AM
    ridiculous that he HAD to apologize for the latter comment...
Other Comments
  • 23 Hide
    jossrik , October 28, 2010 2:06 AM
    Sounds to me like he was obviously having a little fun, which everyone should be allowed to do. I don't know how long the interview was, or the rapport he had with the interviewer. Sounds kinda like he said a joke, then said no seriously, it's not really that big of an issue.


    I'm a PC, and windows ME was my idea. In retrospect, I probably should have kept it to myself.
  • 9 Hide
    afforess , October 28, 2010 2:13 AM
    I agree, he's just showing off his state of the art technology, Google is in the business of keeping trust, so they don't actually want to piss off their customers, unlike some companies, who I will not name.
  • 11 Hide
    Parsian , October 28, 2010 2:41 AM
    People should ACCEPT that once they are on the internet, there is no classical privacy
  • -4 Hide
    victorintelr , October 28, 2010 3:03 AM
    Nothing new in an opinion coming from him, he has a loose tongue, but for the position he holds, he should be more careful with his comments, he is the CEO of GOOGLE, not a random person.
    Still, when you're on internet, you also have to be careful on what do you publish about yourself, though in these cases, that can't be really controlled, specially because how many people will know about the "contact Google to remove the house" and in that group, how many will actually will do it.
  • -3 Hide
    micr0be , October 28, 2010 3:33 AM
    yes lets not name companies that piss people off... but google is no where near that list.
  • 10 Hide
    mayne92 , October 28, 2010 3:34 AM
    ridiculous that he HAD to apologize for the latter comment...
  • 1 Hide
    eddieroolz , October 28, 2010 3:37 AM
    While Street View is certainly great, I'm still interested in hearing his defence regarding Google's interception of people's networks.
  • 4 Hide
    phantom93 , October 28, 2010 4:00 AM
    so, if people are mad that there house is on street view, meaning people can see it. Does that mean they get mad when I drive by? will I need to wear a blindfold when I go down their street?
  • -4 Hide
    ispam , October 28, 2010 4:26 AM
    I'm so tired of Google hiding under the fake "Do not evil" slogan...at least Microsoft and Apple are not trying to deceive anyone.
  • 5 Hide
    ta152h , October 28, 2010 4:44 AM
    ispamI'm so tired of Google hiding under the fake "Do not evil" slogan...at least Microsoft and Apple are not trying to deceive anyone.


    Are you kidding? Apple's first computer costed $666. Talk about not making any attempt to deceive anyone. That might be a bit too honest.
  • 0 Hide
    dalauder , October 28, 2010 5:33 AM
    afforessI agree, he's just showing off his state of the art technology, Google is in the business of keeping trust, so they don't actually want to piss off their customers, unlike some companies, who I will not name.


    Oh, naming companies that lost our trust? How about AT&T? They finally got their customer service act together though. If they'd always answered the phone when I called, I'd have probably kept their service. Google on the other hand, I'd trust them with anything...they've got a perfect rep in my book. It's really shocking how a big (and, inherently, evil) corporation like Google can manage to consistently seem like the good guys. I guess their name sounds innocent though--unlike Raytheon, which just sounds like it's planning on holding Europe for ransom.
  • 1 Hide
    AMD_pitbull , October 28, 2010 6:03 AM
    ispamI'm so tired of Google hiding under the fake "Do not evil" slogan...at least Microsoft and Apple are not trying to deceive anyone.

    Right...cuz MS is open about mistakes and Apple atones for what they do and doesn't blames it's users or say they're using it wrong?
  • -1 Hide
    bobusboy , October 28, 2010 6:22 AM
    "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

    Should I really have to worry about big brother in the first place?
  • 2 Hide
    jalek , October 28, 2010 8:21 AM
    The next quote will be "If you don't want your privacy violated, you can just die."
  • -2 Hide
    Griffolion , October 28, 2010 8:29 AM
    TA152HAre you kidding? Apple's first computer costed $666. Talk about not making any attempt to deceive anyone. That might be a bit too honest.


    And their latest Mac Pro costs £4K for the baseline 12 core model.

    As soon as you're on the net, there is no such thing as privacy, i'd much prefer my details in the hands of Google rather than some hacker who fancies stealing my money or identity.
  • 0 Hide
    Griffolion , October 28, 2010 8:32 AM
    eddieroolzWhile Street View is certainly great, I'm still interested in hearing his defence regarding Google's interception of people's networks.


    You mean the non-passworded wireless networks they inadvertently connected to while mapping streets?

    Rule 1: You don't want people getting on your wireless network? PASSWORD IT.
  • 3 Hide
    wudu , October 28, 2010 11:40 AM
    Just because something is on the ground in my yard, it doesn't give you right to pick it up.
    They can't just connect and snoop packets by mistake, so stop being ignorant about it.
    I do agree that people should protect themselves however.
  • -1 Hide
    blackened144 , October 28, 2010 12:49 PM
    wuduJust because something is on the ground in my yard, it doesn't give you right to pick it up.They can't just connect and snoop packets by mistake, so stop being ignorant about it.I do agree that people should protect themselves however.

    It would be illegal if they picked something up off the front of your yard.. But if its lying in the middle of the street in front of your house, its fair game.
  • 0 Hide
    ta152h , October 28, 2010 1:22 PM
    GriffolionAnd their latest Mac Pro costs £4K for the baseline 12 core model.As soon as you're on the net, there is no such thing as privacy, i'd much prefer my details in the hands of Google rather than some hacker who fancies stealing my money or identity.


    I'm sorry I wasn't clearer. 666 = Sign of the Devil.

    Really weird price, don't you think?
  • 0 Hide
    house70 , October 28, 2010 1:48 PM
    it's obvious he was making a joke.
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