Tag Archives: CEO Eric Schmidt

Google Alarm – Alerts You When Google Is Watching!

In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, Google CEO Eric Schmidt made the following comment which frankly, I find not only offensive, but very disturbing.

“We (Google) know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.”

If you feel like a pawn in a bigger game that you don’t understand, and you wonder just why this insatiable need exists for Google to collect more and more information about you, you’re not alone.

Schmidt can put it perspective for you though –

“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he says……. You get a billion people doing something, there’s lots of ways to make money. Absolutely, trust me. We’ll get lots of money for it.”

Despite Schmidt’s claim last year that privacy is dead, and that people don’t care about privacy, any number of recent surveys refute this assertion. A much more realistic and balanced view on privacy, can be had at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic.org), is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. “which focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values.”

If you’ve ever wondered how invasive Google really is, there’s a small Firefox addon on that will help answer the question.

Google Alarm puts up a small message box for any web site where information on you is being sent to a Google server. The screen capture below shows that Google collected information on me, at 53 of the sites I visited this morning. I must admit, I found this rather amazing.

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The information collected, at first glance, seems rather harmless. But, with the ability Google has to correlate and data mine, (much of that ability jealously guarded), I have no doubt, that the captured information is anything but harmless.

Here’s a short video which shows Google Alarm in action. Just click on the video to run.

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I’m not suggesting that you need to run this addon as a permanent fixture in your Browser, but I do recommend that you give a spin. If it acts as a wake up call on how powerful Google has become (it should), then it’s done its job.

Note: If you decide to install this addon, you’re better off choosing the “workplace-friendly” version which dispenses with the annoying sound alarm, and relies only on a flashing message box.

If you’re a Chrome user, a Beta version of this application is available.

Download at: the developer’s site.

Additional articles on privacy posted here, include –

Personal Privacy – A Dangerous Concept!

GoogleSharing Firefox Add-on – Stop Google’s Invasion of Your Privacy!

Google’s CEO’s Privacy Statement – A Freudian Slip?

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Browsers, Chrome, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google, Interconnectivity, Point of View, Privacy, Software, Surveillance, Windows Tips and Tools

Google’s CEO’s Privacy Statement – A Freudian Slip?

image In a recent interview with CNBC, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt, made the following assertion on Internet privacy: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place…………………….” A statement, in my view, that is essentially the equivalent of moralistic claptrap.

Moreover, it’s a statement which translates easily into that foolishly held belief, “If you’ve done nothing wrong – you have nothing to worry about.” The truth is, the realities of the world we now live in continue to emphasize; despite the fact you have done nothing wrong – you have everything to worry about.

Consider this:

Disk wipe utilities, disk cleaning utilities, and file shredding utilities, are among the most popular free downloads on the Internet.

Most web Browsers offer a private browsing mode.

Encryption software is often advertised as a way to protect private, personal, or sensitive files.

Anonymizer applications, such as Hotspot Shield, are advertised as a way to protect a user’s online identity.

While there are multiple uses for the software applications, or application options, described above, a primary use of such software is to ensure a certain level of privacy. Of course, if you’ve done nothing wrong you don’t need to use these applications, right?

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You have your own reasons for seeking out privacy of course, in both your private and your online life, and I wouldn’t begin to presume to query, or to comment on those reasons. But, I seriously doubt it’s because you’ve done something “wrong”. Instead, it comes down to a fundamental human need – and the need for privacy is fundamental to who we are.

Noted security guru Bruce Schneier, puts it in a relevant context when he says:

“Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance. If we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness.

We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that — either now or in the uncertain future — patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable”.

The Internet is a reasonably true international digital representation of our world. A world with conflicting views on what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s socially acceptable and what’s not, and with varying degrees of both the recognition of, and the need for personal privacy.

For Eric Schmidt to state that he has the answer to this privacy riddle, in a highly complex world, or to assert his moralistic view as to what we should or shouldn’t do, is hardly the perspective one would expect from someone in his position.

He may be a whiz bang when it comes to search engines, but I suggest that he’s a dud when it comes to the psychology of human beings.

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Filed under Google, Interconnectivity, Living Life, Personal Perspective, Privacy, Surveillance