Surveillance advocate Eric Schmidt is stepping down as head of Google parent company Alphabet

Eric Schmidt, the ex-Sun CEO who came onboard at Google to be the "adult supervision" for the founders and who has repeatedly declared privacy dead and dismissed people who worried about surveillance business-models as unrealistic nutcases, is stepping down as head of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

Distressingly, Schmidt will remain active in Google's divisions that work on smart cities, healthcare, and AI — areas of business where indifference to privacy concerns has the potential for catastrophic fallout to the world and the business.

In his new role, he'll likely advise the company's urban development arm, Sidewalk Labs, its deep learning efforts, and its healthcare spin-offs, Verily and Calico.

Alphabet expects that its board will appoint a new, non-executive chairman at its next meeting in January, meaning that it will join the ranks of Apple and Microsoft as major companies with non-executive chairman.

Eric Schmidt is stepping down as the executive chairman of Alphabet [Jillian D'Onfro/CNBC]

(Image: JD Lasica, CC-BY)