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.