The two faces of Google

Reading Google Anything, So Long as It’s Not Google – New York Times I was impressed… for a […]

Reading Google Anything, So Long as It’s Not Google – New York Times I was impressed… for a company that values open access to information above all other virtues this seems out of character.

“Last month, Elinor Mills, a writer for CNET News, a technology news Web site, set out to explore the power of search engines to penetrate the personal realm: she gave herself 30 minutes to see how much she could unearth about Mr. Schmidt by using his company’s own service. The resulting article, published online at CNET’s under the sedate headline “Google Balances Privacy, Reach,” was anything but sensationalist. It mentioned the types of information about Mr. Schmidt that she found, providing some examples and links, and then moved on to a discussion of the larger issues. She even credited Google with sensitivity to privacy concerns.

When Ms. Mills’s article appeared, however, the company reacted in a way better suited to a 16th-century monarchy than a 21st-century democracy with an independent press. David Krane, Google’s director of public relations, called’s editor in chief to complain about the disclosure of Mr. Schmidt’s private information, and then Mr. Krane called back to announce that the company would not speak to any reporter from CNET for a year.”

Apparently it isn’t unusual, Apple and IMB have both punished companies for when they didn’t like how their CEO was presented (or revealed) but considering it was Google itself that offered up this information, considering that they have one of the most cohesive cultures I’ve ever seen, in which a core value is information access, this is odd.

The article is worth a quick perusal, before it disappears into the deep archives, because it also raises a larger question. Just because information is out there, and can be brought to a larger circulation, should it be? While security through obscurity is not a wise policy, it’s kept a remarkable amount of information safe for a long time.

Even if Eric E. Schmidt’s personal contact information was always findable by those who tried hard enough, I’m sure he’s feeling the difference between the number of folks contacting him after a search and those who are now enjoying “crimes of opportunity,” dropping him a quick note to tell him “google roolz” or “sux”. Then again, this is a lesson Google needs to learn as well, and those lessons earned through personal experience are those we remember best.

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    Manu Sharma

    The has been making rounds of the web for the past few weeks. I agree it’s quite unlike Google. My guess is that it’s perhaps the Google employees that collectively decided on this and not the top executives.

    If you read the actual article, you’d understand why — it’s complete hogwash and a deliberate attack. There’s no shread of evidence in any single one of the cases that Mills cite that Google is doing something that other companies aren’t. In fact the article inaccurately suggested that Google Desktop exposes content of user’s hard drive to Google. Cnet had to make a correction after Google pointed out the error. Also, as Google employee Jason Shellen pointed out, and so did you: “there is a difference between public data and publicizing data.”

    But what’s driving me nuts is the assertion with which the article began, citing Schmidt’s details, that Google is somehow at fault for making all that private data easy to find or in other words, making the web accessible. Hey, any googd search engine would do that! That’s what they do. That’s their job. Now, you can employ it for productive purposes or otherwise, that’s your call. But if you’re out to murder someone don’t blame the knife for its ability to cut.

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