Google chief vows to protect users' privacy

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Google chief vows to protect users' privacy

Bobbie Johnson, technology correspondent
Wednesday November 8, 2006

The Google chief executive, Eric Schmidt, yesterday vowed to resist
attempts by US president George W Bush's administration to obtain
private information on internet users.
On the day when the Republican administration faced dispiriting results
in the US mid-term elections, Dr Schmidt launched a stinging criticism
of the government's attitude to privacy.

Earlier this year, Google succeeded in having a subpoena allowing
access to huge banks of data on the habits of web users overturned by a
federal judge.

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Dr Schmidt said the search giant "would fight very hard" against any
repeat performance from the White House.
"This was a complete violation of our users' rights," Dr Schmidt told
the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

"We, as a society, came to a rational outcome, and if we don't like it
we can replace the people who pass those laws."

Coming alongside a series of other attacks on privacy, such as the
warrantless tapping of telephone lines, the Bush administration's
actions caused a furore among privacy groups and internet activists.

Although many online companies, including Microsoft and AOL, were
prepared to capitulate to the administration's subpoena, Google refused
to assist.

Dr Schmidt led a challenge to defeat it, in a result that was hailed as
a victory for individual privacy.

But despite that success, Dr Schmidt admitted that further attacks
would be highly likely in the future.

"There's clearly going to be someone who tests the limits of the
Patriot Act, and it's an important constitutional issue," he said.

"It's not clear to me whether it will be the internet or libraries, but
there's this tension between freedom of speech, terrorism, right and
secret trials."

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