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Google Nixing Cnet?

By - August 05, 2005

So says Slashdot and Cnet (scroll to bottom). Say it ain’t so, Google! The story Google is upset about is this one….I remember seeing this piece, which has a bunch of personal info on Eric Schmidt that was found via Google, and thinking “Huh, some of the stuff in that story is old, or out of context,” and thinking that a few more phone calls would have been in order, at the least. But the point of the story, even if it was not necessarily made well, was that so much info was available on Google. And another point might be that a search engine never gives a full or necessarily accurate picture of the person (that point was lost). But to ban Cnet for this? Sounds a bit over the top.

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  • http://www.kbcafe.com Randy Charles Morin

    Actually, I think this is great policy on Google’s part. Focus on Google, not the personal lives of its employees. I personally don’t mind anybody looking at my employment history or blogging history or whatever Internet history. But, leave my personal life alone.

  • http://battellemedia.com John Battelle

    Randy – I’d normally agree with you, but 1. Eric is a public figure and 2. the story was about this very thing – privacy and personal information that Google makes (more) public. I think the idea was defensible. It seems to me there was something more here that we don’t know about that really pissed off the folks at Google.

  • http://www.simplyhired.com Dave McClure

    That’s a completely juvenile response by Google. Feels like something the Bush administration would pull, or Barry Bonds.

    “i don’t like the story you wrote about me, so i’m not talking… nyahh”.

    if that talk-to-the-hand position is accurate, they really need to grow up. i could understand a problem with selected fact-checking, but seriously — not talking to a major news outlet just cause you don’t like the positioning?

    hope none of those folks ever decide to run for political office. they’ll have a rude awakening.

    Google starting to feel more & more like the old Microsoft every day…

  • http://speed.insane.com/ Scott Johnson

    This certainly violates Google’s “Don’t be evil” philosophy. Shame on them.

  • Bud

    Google does not like anyone finding out about their secrets, especially when it involves the personal lives and security of their top management.

    They go on witch hunts to find people who leak information, which as John points out is quite hypocritical in this case as the reporter used *Google* to find out the information they are trying to keep secret. There must be a deeper story here.

    Just remember, transparency is evil, transparency is evil… or at least that is what Sergey, the world’s newly self-appointed arbiter of evil, appears to be saying.

    You can not be a billionaire, run a public search engine company, be involved in political causes, and have any expectation of leading a private life.

    I guess the next step will be for Eric to have those pages that identify him removed from the Web &/or Google’s index.

    Hypocrites.

  • http://www.bladam.com/ Adam

    I have to side with Google on this one.

    The article (likely) at issue was sophomoric, rude, and simply bad journalism. Google (the search engine) is a tool, and it can be abused like any other tool.

    First of all, using Google as the poster child of “privacy invasions” is pretty stupid in itself. What about Zabasearch? Yahoo? Your local phone book, for goodness sake? Stalking people is not new.

    Also, while Eric may be a public figure, is his wife?

    I think CNET’s been going downhill for a while. And I mean, seriously, why *would* Google want to pay attention to an outlet that does such a crappy job “reporting”? It’s not like Google said “We’re refusing to talk to any media…” they simply said, hey, we’re not talking to this one online site. And for that, people are accusing Google of being evil? Get a grip.

  • http://www.simplyhired.com David McClure

    sorry adam, i would strongly disagree with you — the article may have had a specific perspective and perhaps a few areas that may have some inaccuracies, but overall the piece was about
    1) Google (and other search engines) collect a lot of personal info about people
    2) what does the company’s privacy policy say (and compares it with Yahoo’s), and
    3) how does the company plan to protect that info on behalf of its users, and against perhaps malicious use or abuse.

    these are certainly legitimate issues to be reporting on, not “sophomoric” or “bad journalism”. have you been following the recent spoofing, phishing, and identify theft news reports?

    i used to work for PayPal, and i know privacy issues are some of the most important things that eBay thinks about — while i’m sure Google and Yahoo do also, it’s certainly a significant journalism topic.

    whether he uses the example of Eric Schmidt (and a passing reference to his wife) to kickoff the article is rather immaterial. if Mr. Schmidt is so concerned about his personal data, then he should be equally concerned about his customers’ data and an open discussion of same.

    to shut down access to info for a major tech news outline in such punitive fashion for simply having a different perspective is an abuse of power & position, imho, and contrary to moving the conversation forward on privacy rights & protection.

    while it may be true that CNet has been known to take aggressive positions on news in order to attract an audience, nonetheless the article in question raises valid points that are in the consumer interest. they should not be penalized for taking on the issue.

  • brian

    you have got to be kidding me! From all the hoopla it would sound as if Cnet found and released Eric Schmidt’s social security and Amex Black card numbers. All Cnet did was tell you how old Schmidt is, where he lives, and that he is a Democrat fundraiser. Big Whoop.

  • Tom

    The New York Times has picked up on this too.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/08/technology/08google.html?

    But apparently Google is still speaking to the New York Times.

    How stupid is Google and Eric looking on this one?

  • http://www.bladam.com Adam

    I’ve done some more thinking about this.

    I still believe that the article was inappropriate. But — if we can take CNet’s claim as true — it’s also clear that Google’s response was neither thoughtful nor savvy. A better tact would have been to add a note to their blog discussing the challenges of privacy (and also, as Jason Shellen rightly noted, why public info is not the same as publicizing info).