Schneier vs. Schmidt on "privacy is for those who have something to hide."

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25 Responses to “Schneier vs. Schmidt on "privacy is for those who have something to hide."”

  1. Itsumishi says:

    Edit. without a legally granted warrant.

    Don’t know where the word system came from.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well -

    This is true.
    Privacy ONLY matters because we want to hide things.

    But there are many reasons to hide something – the law and moral convention are only two of them.
    So we should retain the right to hide our information if we so choose.

  3. Anonymous says:

    privacy is for people who have been victimized by multiple stalkers, subjected to intimidation and badly injured…with no assistance in sight

  4. Ray Drainville says:

    I just want to get this right: Schmidt makes a [very frightening] comment in 2009, and then Bruce Schneier *goes back in time* to 2006 to respond?

    Talk about burying the lede!

  5. The Chemist says:

    Do no evil?

  6. SKR says:

    Great response from Schneier, but is Schmidt being a tool a la “if you don’t have anything to hide. you don’t have anything to worry about”, or is he just acknowledging the Big Brother qualities of the Patriot Act?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well, Schmidt has got a point – a secret isn’t a secret if more than one person knows it. If Google knows you’ve been looking at porn, well, that’s what you get for asking Google where to find it.

  8. Church says:

    Yeah, I’m sort of leaning towards Schmidt essentially saying, “the law screws any privacy expectations you have. Don’t get mad at us.”

  9. CANTFIGHTTHEDITE says:

    It sounds like he’s admitting that Google is subject to the Patriotic Act in regards to personal data retained for any amount of time. It’s very indirect, but he’s saying that if you want complete secrecy, the only safe place is inside your head.

  10. Ted8305 says:

    *EVERYONE* has legitimate things to “hide” (i.e. to keep private). The problem’s not necessarily with Google holding the data, but with bad people getting a hold of it.

    There are people in this world who would do you harm. Eric Schmidt is naive to think otherwise.

  11. petercrowell says:

    You just have to own what you do, online or otherwise. If you get spotted, look them in the eye.

    That’s security.

  12. Piers W says:

    Interesting purported Google job ad at the bottom of this page.

    “Must have current government top security clearance (TS/SI).”

    http://www.google-watch.org/jobad.html

  13. Cowicide says:

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

    video of this asshole saying it too:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6e7wfDHzew

    O RLY???

    Let’s see all your trade secrets, Google… No? Maybe you shouldn’t be running Google. Eric, why isn’t your private phone number listed? Maybe you shouldn’t be making phone calls?

    http://gawker.com/5198418/google-execs-in-secret-layoff-meetings

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-5873957-7.html

    http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/166836/google_keeps_mum_about_page_meeting_with_ecs_reding.html

    http://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-protects-trade-secrets-from-department-of-justice/2958/

  14. Cowicide says:

    … he’s revolutionized his thinking since 2005, when he blacklisted CNET for publishing info about him gleaned from Google searches, including salary, neighborhood, hobbies and political donations. In that case, the married CEO must not mind all the coverage of his various reputed girlfriends; it’s odd he doesn’t clarify what’s going on with the widely-rumored extramarital dalliances, though.

    - Google CEO: Secrets Are for Filthy People

    Meanwhile, Google Gears is the ONLY freeware app on my Mac that constantly tries to secretly phone home from Safari for “updates” and gives me no way to turn it off except with terminal hacks and the only reason I even knew about it in the first place was because I run Little Snitch.

    Do no evil? Bull-fucking-shit…

  15. The Tonic says:

    Ridiculous counterargument. Schneier might as well argue that you should be allowed to send cash in the mail.

    The comparison between a public space like a street and a private space like one’s bathroom is apt. The flaw in his reasoning is that the Internet should be like your bathroom. It’s not — the Internet is public, and if you wouldn’t make love in the street, you shouldn’t do it online. Or at least, as Schmidt says, use judgment.

    Google, for the record, has been better than most at protecting its users information. But the reality is, when you visit a website or send an Email, it passes through dozens of nodes, not all of them transparent. If you can’t trust every single individual or organization with access to the nodes your info passes through, you can’t trust the system at all.

    Children should be educated from an early age that the Internet is an agora as public as the mall food court — and we should all conduct ourselves with the awareness of the same limits on our privacy.

    • Cowicide says:

      Ridiculous counterargument. Schneier might as well argue that you should be allowed to send cash in the mail.

      It doesn’t seem like you understand what Eric actually said and therefore you don’t understand Schneier counter-argument. Especially if all you took from this was that he “might as well argue that you should be allowed to send cash in the mail”.

      • The Tonic says:

        Why don’t you explain to me what he meant? Because it sounded like Schmidt was saying, here’s a system to transfer information, and it would be great if it was totally secure and private, but it’s not, so remember that and don’t use it for anything you can’t stand to see compromised. And Schneier’s response sounded a little like, well, if I can do it in my bathroom I should be able to do it online with the same sense of privacy.

        The postal service is supposed to be safe and private. The Internet is also supposed to be safe and private. But if you mail cash, an anonymous postal worker in some badly-lit warehouse will steal it. And if you mail heroin, the police will show up at your door. Similarly, if you send love letters online, they might get hacked and shared with the world, and if you mail child porn to your friends, the police will show up at your door. There are limits to safeness and security when you put your information in other people’s hands — very different from the safety and security you find in your own home. I think the analogue is apt.

        • Cowicide says:

          Why don’t you explain to me what he meant? Because it sounded like Schmidt was saying, here’s a system to transfer information, and it would be great if it was totally secure and private, but it’s not, so remember that and don’t use it for anything you can’t stand to see compromised.

          You got all that from this?

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

          Sounds like you are projecting what you’d like him to have said instead of what he actually said… which what he said is one of the timeliest, lamest, cliché arguments for tromping on people’s rights known to mankind.

        • Itsumishi says:

          I think you argue your argument well, but you also have some pretty big flaws in your reasoning.

          True if you start mailing child porn around you might (and deserve to) have the police turning up at your door.

          However if you chose to mail order plain regular porn the Postal Service have no reason to keep any record of it what so ever and certainly shouldn’t be able to sell or give that information to anyone else.

          Now it would be different if the Police had reason to believe you were receiving illegal items in the mail and then applied for a Warrant through the legal system, but that is a very different thing to keeping records on anyone that are available for snooping whenever.

          The same goes for phone calls.
          These run through exchanges, etc much in the same way that the postal service or the internet works.

          If the police apply for a warrant they can and should be allowed to tap your calls (providing the warrant is granted legally of course). No one should be recording the phone calls or storing the data for anything but billing records.

          Do you expect the right to have a private phone call?

          I certainly do. Just as I certainly expect my legal right to browse the web without my Government or any Authority keeping tabs on me without a legally granted warrant system.

          [Disclaimer: I'm not American, I live in Australia].

          • The Tonic says:

            You’re absolutely right — the record-keeping part is a bit offputting. But I’m not sure this is a degree of kind.

            The postal service does check your mail for illegal things. While it doesn’t keep a record, your goods are susceptible to search and seizure for the entire time they are in the hands of the postal service. Likewise, Google deletes search records after a set period of time, after which your info is no longer searchable. In one case, your info is in the hands of others for days, and in the other, it’s months, but the length of time doesn’t mean the principle isn’t the same.

            There is a very good reason Google keeps these records, by the way — it helps improve searches, for one thing, and it anonymizes it and sells it for marketing purposes, for another. If you use Google, you should appreciate the fact that they’re trying to make their searches the best possible, and understand that they have to make money somehow. If you don’t use Google, then you needn’t worry.

          • The Tonic says:

            *difference* of kind. As opposed to a difference of degree. Is what I meant.

          • Cowicide says:

            If you don’t use Google, then you needn’t worry.

            You do realize Google also offers many other services besides their search engine like gmail (email) and much more? Many can be using and communicating through services and have no idea Google owns them as well. YouTube has “private” messaging.

            So what you are basically saying is just don’t use the internet (or huge parts of it anyway) and you’ll have maybe some basic privacy?

            Sounds an awful lot like:

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

  16. seanbedlam says:

    “Privacy is for those who have something to hide”? What kind of squeaky clean world does this guy live in? Can I put a camera in his toilet bowl, because I need to do some important research into the amazing new life form that is this man right now!

  17. petercrowell says:

    It’s hard (for me) to imagine Schmidt taking such a cavalier, buyer-beware attitude. To me it seems more like he thinks the potential lack of privacy sucks just as bad as I think it sucks. He’s just saying, “Be smart.”

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