PC Mag has a story about Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his ideas on privacy, including location data privacy. (The Electronic Frontier Foundation last month praised Google Latitude and Loopt and their approaches to protecting location privacy.)
Google CEO Eric Schmidt appeared at his alma mater, Princeton University, on Saturday to discuss the Internet and globalization, Google products that have recently made headlines, and how not to be evil. […]
Google’s information gathering processes, and what it does with that data, has been a hot topic of conversation since the company’s inception. Schmidt pointed to Google Latitude as an example of a product that had to balance innovation and privacy.
Latitude, which was released in February, lets mobile phone users share their locations, and track friends who have opted-in to the service.
During a product review session with executives last year, “this 22-year-old comes in … and shows his current position on his phone, and he shows the current positions of his friends,” Schmidt said. “As he does his demo, I’m slowly sinking into my chair. He has no clue what he just invented. I’m going, ‘you have real-time tracking that you’re storing in our log files … with an accurate predicator of where the people are going.”
Imaging the police and government subpoenas, as well as the lawsuits, that were likely to pour in seeking access to this data, Schmidt initially shot down Latitude.
“Eventually we made a change that is very easy to understand – you can turn it off, and also, you can tell it to tell people that you’re somewhere else,” Schmidt said. […]
Google tries “very, very hard not to lock people in,” Schmidt said. “We looked at Microsoft … and we wrote an internal policy on how to be good while being big. We won’t trap your data.”