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 News.com 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 CNET.com’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.