Google Schmidt Predicts China, USA Will Abandon Censorship Within 10 Years
November 22, 2013 9:05 AM
(Source: Fight for the Future (on Twitter))
Mr. Schmidt admits visit to North Korea didn't produce the results he hoped for, but remains optimistic
Former Google Inc. (
) CEO and current Google chairman Eric Schmidt told an audience at a
Johns Hopkins University
The solution to government surveillance is to encrypt everyone. With sufficiently long keys and changing the keys all the time, it turns out it's very, very difficult for the interloper of any kind to go in and do that.
The comment unintentionally illustrates how complex and at times ironic the reality in the digital age can be.
I. Google Wants to Stop Federal Spying -- And it Knows a Thing or Two About Spying
On the one hand Mr. Schmidt is entirely right.
Encryption is the only route to privacy
in an age when
one man can spy on a million men at once
, with the right engineering help. And Google is playing
a "cat and mouse" game with the U.S. government
trying to push back hard against
U.S. National Security Agency
the nation's internet networks
It's easy to see why Google is concerned -- any company should be. This spying which could
easily transform into corporate espionage
on behalf of the special interest donors who back
America's pro-spying politicians
. And given secrecy laws it's very possible the truth would never see the light of day. In short Big Brother isn't just a dangerous threat to political freedom ... he's a threat to the free market, as well.
But Mr. Schmidt's commentary also carries an unfortunate irony in that it was under his reign at the world's largest internet services company that a team of Google engineers conducted an obtrusive campaign of spying, intercepting data coming off
unencrypted networks in the U.S.
for nearly two years,
using it's Street View cars
Google has been fined millions for using Street View and misleading business practices to collect data on millions of Americans. [Image Source: Google]
In many ways Google's data gathering was every bit and dangerous and obtrusive as the NSA's ongoing programs. Google has admitted to harvest email usernames and passwords -- a stunning admission from a firm championing internet privacy. Under his leadership Google also repeatedly circumvented other companies browser privacy settings and tracked users without asking them -- all moves designed to maximize profits for the internet's biggest ad-seller.
Perhaps it's appropriate that the U.S. government let off Google relatively light. Google was
fined $22.5M USD
U.S. Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) in Aug. 2012 for
circumventing security settings in browsers by its rivals
Apple, Inc. (
) (Safari) and Microsoft Corp. (
) (Internet Explorer), to allow Google to monitor users' browsing history. In March it agreed to pay
$7M USD settlement to U.S. state regulators
$189,000 USD settlement to regulators in Germany
over the street view accusations. Most recently, it
agreed to pay an additional $17M USD
to settle yet more unauthorized tracking accusations -- this time regarding its own Chrome browser.
The grand total paid to the FTC -- less than $50M USD combined for all three fines -- will be divvied up among the 30+ states that sued Google over each incident. But overall, those fines were a mere slap on the wrist -- about 1.5 percent of what Google makes in a single quarter of a year (Google pocketed $2.97B USD in net earnings in Q3 2013). Then again, perhaps that's the most the feds could ask for, given
the relative hypocrisy
of them accusing Google of spying on Americans.
Many top tech firms including Oracle and Amazon supported NSA spying as it gives them federal contract money. Google, like Oracle and Amazon has moved spy on citizens -- but has looked to monetize private spying, rather government spying. [Image Source: Maplight]
Or maybe the light fine had a little something to do with
$4.2M USD Google
is now paying quarterly to federal politicians. These contributions are thought to be the same force that
drove the NSA to embark on its epic spying in the first place
as companies like Oracle Corp. (
) and Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (
urged the members of Congress
(members who they helped pay to get elected) to "improve national security" -- by giving them
billions in non-competitive taxpayer contracts
to spy on Americans.
Both sides -- both the groups promoting federal spying and those opposed to it are essentially two sides of the same coin, as they both heavily try to
pay off federal politicians to get financial gains
-- the root of this many other problems.
II. Schmidt Predicts the Unlikely Death of Censorship
But if the contrast between Google's privacy violations and lobbying versus its vocal attacks on NSA spying seem ironically inconsistent, Mr. Schmidt seems willing to overlook that aspect. At his speech at the top research college he told the audience that his dream is to see the expansion of the internet and encryption put an end to
nations like China
and the U.S.
censoring the internet
First they try to block you; second, they try to infiltrate you; and third, you win. I really think that's how it works. Because the power is shifted. I believe there's a real chance that we can eliminate censorship and the possibility of censorship in a decade.
Like Dennis Rodman (right), Eric Schmidt (not pictured) paid North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (left) a recent friendly visit. [Image Source: Reuters]
In January Mr. Schmidt visited North Korea's capital city of Pyongyang and met with senior government officials. In March, speaking to an audience in New Delhi, India he explained:
[North Korea] is the last really closed country in the world. This is a country that has suffered from lack of information. The Internet was built for everyone, including North Koreans. The quickest way to get economic growth in North Korea is to open up the Internet. I did my best to tell them this.
However, the visit to the Asian nation, which was until recently
self-proclaimed "internet expert" Kim Jong-il
, appeared to produce little immediate results. At Johns Hopkins University he acknowledged:
It's clear that we failed. But we'll try again. We have not been invited back. My view is that if we can get some connectivity, then they'll begin to open the country, they'll begin to understand other systems.
U.S. Department of State
was less than thrilled by the Google veteran's Pyongyang outreach, which came at an icy point in North Korea and America's relationship
following the controversial Dec. launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile
, a test of a technology that could threaten the U.S. mainland. The launch was just the latest in a wave of fresh posturing by Kim Jong-un, son of the late Jong-il and new dictator of North Korea.
The U.S., like China and North Korea has been accused of spying on its citizens inappropriately. [Image Source: Fight For the Future]
Jong-un is much more of a riddle than his father. He was raised in the West (Switzerland), reportedly speaks English extremely well, and is an avid fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA) -- the mostly American sports. But if Jong-un secretly admires U.S. culture, his actions seem to say quite the opposite. The U.S. and North Korea's diplomatic relations seem to have move little, or even worsened. In April Jong-un thumbed his nose at regulators,
restarting North Korea's nuclear fuel enrichment program
And yet Mr. Schmidt, like former NBA star Dennis Rodman (who Mr. Schmidt jokingly compared himself to in March), seems to believe that extending the olive branch to the new dictator will prove more successful than threats waved around by the U.S. State Department.
Eric Schmidt gives a lecture at Johns Hopkins Univ. [Image Source: Kaveh Sardari]
Ultimately Mr. Schmidt's
dream of censorship dying
within a decade may prove a fantasy, and his criticism of federal spying may be more than a little hypocritical. But at the same time there's an incredible amount of validity in what he says.
Mr. Schmidt's message has legs to stand on its own regardless of the messenger's track record. Even as the internet has proved a path to
greater privacy intrusions
, it also has proven
a weapon to destroy these evils
. And as Mr. Schmidt says the easy way to make sure that no one can trivially track you -- be it Google or the NSA -- is to
adopt strong encryption
for all your networks. Unfortunately, that approach
may soon be illegal in the U.S.
, unless action is taken.
Johns Hopkins Univ.
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
Italy Accuses Apple of $1.34B USD Tax Fraud Scheme
November 14, 2013, 4:41 PM
Owner of Lavabit Faces $10K Fine For Protecting His Users From Federal Spying
November 13, 2013, 12:14 PM
NSA and Congress -- You Will Never Kill the Constitution, It's an Idea
November 10, 2013, 2:00 PM
Sen. Feinstein's "Improvement" to NSA Spying on Americans: Make it Legal
November 4, 2013, 4:20 PM
Google's Eric Schmidt Says NSA Spying on Data Centers is "Not OK"
November 4, 2013, 11:38 AM
Google plans ultra-fast wireless Internet for Research Triangle Park, N.C.
August 12, 2016, 6:30 AM
Twitter Senior VP: "Diversity is Important, But We Can’t Lower the Bar"
November 9, 2015, 9:59 AM
CNN Resorts to Internet Censorship to Promote Clinton Over Senator Sanders
October 15, 2015, 2:47 PM
Breaking Bad: How to Crash Google's Chrome Browser With Just 8 Characters
September 23, 2015, 11:08 AM
Quick Note: Amazon UK Offers £10 Back on Any Order £50 or Over
August 3, 2015, 12:05 PM
Editorial: Reddit Allows Itself to be Hijacked as a Hate Platform For Racist Bigots
July 21, 2015, 6:32 PM
Most Popular Articles
Problems with Windows 10 – Update Now
October 15, 2016, 7:30 AM
Is Razer Blade Stealth Laptop For You?
October 16, 2016, 5:00 AM
Bluetooth Saves Lives
October 16, 2016, 7:05 AM
Innovative Neurotechnology in Sound Therapy Reduces High Blood Pressure and Migraines
October 16, 2016, 5:00 AM
Car Insurance - The Hidden Discriminatory Practise
October 18, 2016, 5:00 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Tips to Prevent Smartphones From Overheating:
Oct 22, 2016, 5:00 AM
Nasa Flies Drones at Nevada Airport
Oct 21, 2016, 8:21 AM
T-Mobile Data Problems
Oct 20, 2016, 10:17 AM
Annoying Apple Watch Problems and How to Fix Them
Oct 20, 2016, 5:00 AM
Your Mail May Soon Be Delivered By Robot
Oct 19, 2016, 9:34 AM
2018 Jeep Wrangler Prototype Sells At Junkyard
Oct 18, 2016, 5:00 AM
Samsung Shines with Gold Edition Tablet
Oct 17, 2016, 9:24 AM
Tesla Hints Mysterious Product Debut for October 17th
Oct 16, 2016, 10:14 AM
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Phones on US flights
Oct 15, 2016, 5:00 AM
Comcast Fined $2.3 Million For Unconfirmed Services Charged To Customers
Oct 14, 2016, 5:00 AM
“American singer / songwriter “Bob Dylan is awarded 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Oct 13, 2016, 10:33 AM
Battery Defect in Medical Device
Oct 12, 2016, 5:00 AM
IBM Bolsters Social Services Sector With Technology Grants
Oct 11, 2016, 5:00 AM
Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate but US Still Toys With Skepticism
Oct 10, 2016, 5:00 AM
IMEX America Trade Show
Oct 9, 2016, 10:00 AM
Phone Wars – Google VS Samsung Free Gifts on Purchase
Oct 6, 2016, 5:00 AM
Member of Parliament’s opposition car exploded in Tbilist capital of Georgia
Oct 5, 2016, 2:52 PM
US Government Cuts Cord On Internet Oversight
Oct 3, 2016, 10:34 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information