There’s been a lot of coverage of my interview with Eric Schmidt at Web 2, but this angle (Guardian) was not that well covered. Till now. It’s funny, while I was talking to him, I did not perceive Eric to have made such a strong statement, but the Guardian reporter certainly did. My question, from my notes, was this (I paraphrased from my notes when asking, as I usually do):
You stood up to the DOJ. And you also, in your own way, stood up to the traditional approaches of Wall St. Let me give you a scenario. If the government makes a request of Google that you and your management team believes is Evil, but it is legal under Patriot, will you stand up as you have before?
I’ll link to the podcast once it’s up so you can hear his response.
From the Guardian story:
The head of the internet search engine Google has vowed to protect the privacy of web surfers against the US government.
As Americans delivered a sweeping midterm election defeat for the Republican administration, Eric Schmidt strongly criticised the White House’s attitude towards privacy at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco…
Update: Another part of the interview that has made news was when I asked about the YouTube acquisition and whether a portion of the $1.65 billion sum was reserved to pay settlements with various media companies, as Mark Cuban asserted on his site. Eric flatly denied it. But Paid Content has found amended SEC filings which may infer the opposite:
“We entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger with YouTube, Inc. (YouTube) in October 2006 which we amended in November 2006. Under the terms of this agreement, as amended, we will acquire all of the outstanding equity interests of YouTube, a privately held company, for aggregate consideration of $1.65 billion. The consideration will be payable in shares of our common stock, which will be reduced to the extent we lend certain amounts of cash to YouTube prior to the closing of the acquisition.”
Feels to me like Eric might have been fudging it onstage, if any of that money is used to pay settlements….
Update 2: More headlines from the conversation came from Eric’s defense of user data portability. I think this is a big issue and I’m pleased Eric supported it.