Schmidt's privacy flap and Mozilla's potential revenue diversification

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says your privacy doesn't exist and a mini uproar ensues. Even one of Mozilla's director of community is giving Bing an endorsement over Google after Schmidt's comments. Let's connect a few dots.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google CEO Eric Schmidt states the obvious---your privacy doesn't exist---and a mini uproar ensues. Even Mozilla's director of community is giving Bing an endorsement over Google after Schmidt's comments. Let's connect a few dots.

First, there's Schmidt's statement, which was delivered on CNBC.

"I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines--including Google--do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities."

CNet News' Ina Fried chronicles the flap. To a few folks: Mozilla Director of Community Development Asa Dotzler, security guru Bruce Schneier and the Electronic Frontier Foundation Schmidt's comments expose that Google is evil (or at least getting there). The reality: Schmidt is just outlining life on the Web. You are being watched and you kind of like it. And Google's plan is to delight you with products in exchange for your data. We're all Google-tethered zombies who go about life without a hoot for privacy. Maybe in a decade or two we'll realize Google is Skynet (only half kidding).

Here's where things get interesting, Dotzler says it's easy to switch to Bing if you're worried about Google privacy.

Most people will argue the merits of Bing vs. Google, but I see revenue diversification. Sure, Mozilla may be making a stand against Google in the name of privacy. If so, Mozilla is risking a lot (Google search bankrolls the foundation). The alternate view is that Mozilla is just opening an opportunity for Bing revenue.

I've been told by more than a few people that Mozilla doesn't think that way and I believe them. Only capitalist cynic pigs like me think that Mozilla could possibly entertain touting Bing in the name of future revenue. It's just not in Mozilla's DNA to use something like Schmidt's comments as negotiating leverage in the future.

Nevertheless, you can connect the dollar dots should you choose. Now would Mozilla really make Bing a default in its browser? Sure. Would Microsoft go for it? You bet. Microsoft and Mozilla are rivals in browsers, but the software giant would gladly cut a search deal with Mozilla if it meant more search share. In fact, Microsoft may double whatever Google paid just for giggles.

Dotzler is right. A new search in Firefox is just a drop-down box away. Will Google get the message?

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