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By: MarkJ - 11 August, 2010 (7:29 AM)
google internet privacyThe boss of internet search and advertising giant Google, Eric Schmidt, has told the Techonomy Conference in Lake Tahoe on the border between California and Nevada (states) in the USA that "in a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you".

Google's CEO made a number of very worrying predictions at the event that has subsequently set the internet ablaze; suffice to say that few people agree with him. Schmidt believes that the only way to manage future threats is with "true transparency and no anonymity". He predicts that governments around the world will soon "need a [verified] name service for people".

Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, said:

"Privacy is not the same thing as anonymity. It is very important that Google and everyone else respects people's privacy. People have a right to privacy; it's natural; it's normal. It's the right way to do things. But if you are trying to commit a terrible, evil crime, it's not obvious that you should be able to do so with complete anonymity.

There are no systems in our society which allow you to do that. Judges insist on unmasking who the perpetrator was. So absolute anonymity could lead to some very difficult decisions for our governments and our society as a whole."

The problem with this path is that it could easily lead to abuses, unfair profiling and be used for more than just "a terrible, evil crime". Still, if the people must be exposed to "true transparency" then perhaps it is only fair that governments and corporations be subjected to exactly the same thing. That's about as likely to happen as humans landing on the sun.

On the other hand an increasing number of world governments, including in the UK, can already access limited broadband ISP logs covering our online activity. We also can't see how it would be practically possible, safe or secure to deliver a "verified name service" across hundreds of millions of independent websites and services.

In either case this is a risky thing for any company to say, especially one like Google that is in the business of tracking, recording and monetizing our personal data. So much for Google's informal corporate motto - "Don't be evil".
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