Schmidt: Google may share user info with US gov't

Schmidt: Google may share user info with US gov't

Summary: Chief executive Eric Schmidt reveals the US government has made 'requests' for information on Google users and the company would comply if the requests were legal

TOPICS: Networking

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has revealed that the US government has made "requests" for the search giant to share information about its users, and that Google would comply if the requests were legal.

During his flying visit to Sydney, asked Schmidt whether, if Google was sharing information with the US government, the company would admit to it.

"That's a good question," Schmidt said. "The US government has attempted to get us to give them information and we have a very strong legal system in the US — as you do — and that legal system is really important, in terms of limiting random explorations by governments."

"The technical answer is that we do not collaborate with governments unless they are following their normal course of business; they have to actually follow all of their procedures. In that case, if that were occurring, they would have had to follow all of their procedures." asked if the Patriot Act bypasses "normal" procedures. "Let's not have a debate about the Patriot Act — there is Patriot 1, Patriot 2... There is a lot of litigation in the courts about all of that," Schmidt said.

"We are subject to US law. The good news is that we are very aggressive about making sure that any requests we get are absolutely legal," Schmidt added.

Topic: Networking

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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  • Privacy issues online

    What i find interesting about privacy laws online and specifically how the media seem to pick on google in this specific area is that the public have been giving this information up way before way the web was even a seed of though in Tim Berners Lee's mind. It seems that there is this massive media frenzy around protecting our online data and surfing habits when actually most people who use cash machines, credit cards, store cards, walk about in the street with CCTV (massive issue in the UK), using travel cards, flights, hotels and every day things are having this data collected and potentially accessed by governments in lots of countries around the world probably more so in the UK and US. So my opinion is that i agree its important to keep our online data private but if people are using the web for illegal purposes then governments asking google to release this is not a new area of concern.

    I must stress i am against any government accessing our personal information without valid reason but constantly putting the web in the spotlight does not seem to me be in line with current every day privacy issues we already have.


  • Online privacy

    I wonder how private the information google collects really is, unless we're talking about Gmail, search data isn't really threatening to an individual's privacy.
    Facebook or Myspace should be of more concern because there the government can learn a whole lot more about you!