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.
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?
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.
If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.