Google CEO Eric Schmidt: donít like Street View? then move!

By on October 26, 2010, 1:38 PM
Google Street View only shows what is already publicly available; you could go visit every place on it yourself if you wanted to. The service just makes it easier by aggregating an image of every street from multiple sides so that you can see it from the comfort of your own home. That being said, Google is being attacked for it by privacy groups in various parts of the world, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt certainly isn't helping. Most recently, he claims that one reason why Street View isn't so bad is because you could "just move," inaccurately claiming that the Street View cars only visit every place once.

Of course, Street View doesn't (yet?) indicate where you live, so moving wouldn't solve the problem anyway. There are plenty of reasonable ways to respond to a privacy question about Street View, but Schmidt chooses to joke around instead. Check out the video below:

All Things Digital made a list of Schmidt's most recent tone-deaf responses to privacy questions which should help put this latest one in perspective:

  • Addressed criticisms of Google's stance on privacy by saying, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."
  • Claimed people want Google to "tell them what they should be doing next."
  • Said of Google, "We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about."
  • Said this: "One day we had a conversation where we figured we could just try to predict the stock market. And then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that."
  • Suggested name changes to protect adults from the Web's record of their youthful indiscretions.
  • Said this: "What we're really doing is building an augmented version of humanity, building computers to help humans do the things they don't do well better."

Schmidt was probably making a poor joke about Street View. If this was the first time, we would call it a slip up, but the man's history shows otherwise. The CEO for the largest Internet company needs to start taking privacy seriously or we'll start to lose faith in Google.





User Comments: 40

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oasis789 said:

schmidt should learn to keep his mouth shut and let PR handle it

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Talking out of the seat of our pants again, are we then, Eric?

This is so annoying on so many levels. It certainly hasn't left me speechless, I simply don't have the time to respond to all of them.

crzydave said:

I wonder if there are any pictures of him on street view?

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I personally like Street View. As a military retiree having traveled the world, it's fun to look up old haunts.

BUT...Schmidt acts like a total *****. If he doesn't watch it, Google will be staring down the barrel of a very expensive lawsuit, not to mention possible investigation/sanctions by the Feds.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I sure do hope he wipes his backside after giving a press release. That much "over spray" could become quite a personal hygiene problem.

mikeusru said:

It's true what he says... if it's photographable from a car on the road, it's in the public view, so there really shouldn't be any legal problems with posting it.

Morality, on the other hand, says something different. If for some reason, thinking no one was around, you came outside in your bathrobe (or simply forgot to shut a window) and something you didn't want showing popped out, it's very unfair (even though unlikely) that it should be posted on the internet for all your friends and family to see. A reasonable person wouldn't post it on facebook, and neither should google. Clearly they can't check every frame of street view by hand, but there should be an easily accessible feature to remove certain things on street view.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I like street view. It actually can put you in another place in the world with a pretty good degree of accuracy. If you really have an issue with something, then quietly contact Google, not a newspaper or blogger, and have the problem removed. People instead prefer to make a huge stink about how their privacy is violated, making themselves more known world-wide than they would have otherwise ever been.

dustin_ds3000 dustin_ds3000, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I see nothing wrong with Street View, i can look right at my front door with it and i don't care. The view of the front of my house is like public domain to me.

Zilpha Zilpha said:

I don't necessarily see anything wrong with street view as long as they are showing only streets - but the way he trivializes it is appalling at best, reckless at worst. There are many reasons why people might want to keep their privacy - abusive ex-husband or boyfriend, stalking girlfriend - weirdo on the internet, to name a few. These shots can potentially have personally identifying landmarks - maybe a glimpse of a certain painting through a window..

I mean it's a long shot but the way he is just completely insensitive to peoples' right to privacy is mind-boggling and a far cry from the old do no evil mantra.

Nexus7Model said:

Google - 'You should move!'

Apple - 'You're holding it wrong!'

Microsoft - <can't think of anything recent...anyone?!>

Jibberish18 said:

Nexus7Model said:

Google - 'You should move!'

Apple - 'You're holding it wrong!'

Microsoft - <can't think of anything recent...anyone?!>

Microsoft - "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."

As for Mr. Schmidt. Chock up his comments to go with one of the most Hypocritical comments of our time

Google - "Don't Be Evil!"

frodough said:

there is nothing wrong with what google is doing on street view, everything is available, the big g is just making it easier.

kaonis92 said:

He has a point because street view does nothing more than take pictures of your house from the street something that can be done legally by anyone. I would actually like to see my house in street view but in Greece the goverment banned it for privacy concerns... I still can't believe he said "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." though!!! Who does he think he is? God?

Zilpha Zilpha said:

Microsoft - "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."

As for Mr. Schmidt. Chock up his comments to go with one of the most Hypocritical comments of our time

Google - "Don't Be Evil!"

Yea, but while Microsoft's statement might have been an inaccurate prediction, it wasn't a world-class jackmaroon comment.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Google - 'You should move!'

Apple - 'You're holding it wrong!'

Microsoft - <can't think of anything recent...anyone?!>

At some point M$ did state that "Blu-Ray would be passed over as a format". Which is exactly what I'm planning to do. (Although I certainly don't claim to speak for the majority).

And then there was something about, "nobody plays FPS games on the PC".

You'll have to judge the veracity of either of those statements for yourself.

Although in truth, they've said nothing that rises anywhere close to the level of this nitwit at Google. Who has proven once again that, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Or perhaps he has become the punchline of a very old joke, "you don't have to have brains to be in charge, you just have to be an a**hole."

dummybait said:

"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

Umm... does anybody see something wrong with this sentence? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

Umm... does anybody see something wrong with this sentence? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense

It certainly doesn't have the proud, patriotic, clarion call of good old fashioned American individuality , "what I'm doing, is none of your f***** business, now does it? Wait I'll answer that, no, no ,no, it certainly does not.

princeton princeton said:

captaincranky said:

Google - 'You should move!'

Apple - 'You're holding it wrong!'

Microsoft - <can't think of anything recent...anyone?!>

At some point M$ did state that "Blu-Ray would be passed over as a format". Which is exactly what I'm planning to do. (Although I certainly don't claim to speak for the majority).

And then there was something about, "nobody plays FPS games on the PC".

You'll have to judge the veracity of either of those statements for yourself.

Although in truth, they've said nothing that rises anywhere close to the level of this nitwit at Google. Who has proven once again that, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Or perhaps he has become the punchline of a very old joke, "you don't have to have brains to be in charge, you just have to be an a**hole."

But after that comment about fps games didn't MS retract it saying that they will "Lead the way." Even if they don't do it it's better than the ***** at google who doesn't if what he says causes bad press.

The5Xfactor said:

I like the street view and I also like:

-------------

"One day we had a conversation where we figured we could just try to predict the stock market. And then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that."

-------------

I wonder if it is the 'end of the stock market' when Google and other big players predict the market 100% ! (maybe they do already!)

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Although in truth, they've said nothing that rises anywhere close to the level of this nitwit at Google
.
But after that comment about fps games didn't MS retract it saying that they will "Lead the way." Even if they don't do it it's better than the ***** at google who doesn't if what he says causes bad press.
I think the above sentence from my post you quoted, addresses itself directly to the point you're trying to make. I'll reword it then; M$ has said nothing in recent memory, that was anywhere near approaching being as stupid as the recent comments made by Google's CEO...!

As to M$, "leading the way", on FPS for the PC, I guess we'll all have to wait to see what develops.

sMILEY4ever said:

Eric Schmidt should take some more PR courses.

vangrat said:

I am of two minds on this matter. I agree with the people who state that this is a privacy issue, but on the other hand, this program allows for instantanious transmission of visual information on locations around the world. Currently, people are angry over this. But, in a few years time, programs like streetview will help pave the way for real time, real world, always online technology. This is both scary, and exciting, at the same time.

I wonder if it would/could be possible to build a "wikiview" type global map, that is completely 100% opt-in, where other people could post street level photos of locations? I know that Google Maps integegrates with wikipedia, but if all content was user generated, than fewer complaints would be had. Or the ones that are had, could be pin pointed to specific users, or just removed outright.

Just a thunk.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I find Street View very useful and overall don't have an issue with it. However not everything on Street View is in the public, I found several local places were the Google car drove onto properties that aren't open, even by signs that say 'Private Property - No Trespassing!' which is kind of funny. I also doubt this is some isolated incident. I'm sure Google would remove those streets if told so, but they should follow the law to begin with and not after the fact. So this mocking of privacy groups is pretty asinine.

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I dont see how street view is any different than some random person driving by your house and taking photos from the street that seems legal to me its public property. Google street view has helped me find a place many times because i could actually see what i was looking for.

Guest said:

I personally don't see the problem here (other than how Eric handled the situation). There's no difference between street view and someone driving around the neighborhood. Got caught being out in your robe? So what! The pictures so pixelated that nobody will recognize when they pass you on the street anyway.

Street view has saved me a few times. Google maps had the road name wrong, but thanks to street view, I knew it was the right road to go down. And my wife works in delivery, so street view allows her to see the actual layout of the streets she's going to, which makes her job a whole lot easier.

I think it's all just a mental thing. People don't like the idea of their house being posted on the web. But like I said, it's no different than someone looking up you address and typing it into google or map quest and driving to your house and through your neighborhood.

Regenweald said:

The man is an *****.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

And the moral of this story is:

Eric Schmidt and Sean Parker are two douchebags.

mtrenal said:

I agree that street view is in itself certainly not illegal- it would be very difficult for anyone to make a solid lawsuit against Google for this. What Schmidt said, on the other hand, was just an entirely irrational move. Mocking angry people never calms them down or makes any issues blow over smoothly.

I also agree that if people have an issue with something that is on street view, they should contact Google quietly and have it removed. If Google then refuses to remove it, then maybe somebody's got grounds for complaint.

Sometimes it seems as though a lot of people don't actually have any problem with whatever right of their's has been violated in some way- they just want to be able to sue a multi-billion dollar company and earn a couple bucks.

At any rate, what Schmidt said was ridiculous on any level. He needs to watch his mouth before he really screws something up and catches more serious flak than just criticism. Even Google is not all-powerful, and making angry people angrier just pushes them towards action- although a Google-boycott seems unlikely to work, admittedly.

poertner_1274 poertner_1274, secroF laicepS topShceT, said:

Sounds a bit like an outdated, not in touch with the public, comment. Being the CEO of a company gives you the right to speak your mind, but there has to come a point in time when it's best to shut your pie hole.

xanthic42 said:

While the comment of "just move" was a bit flippant, and as most CEO interviews I have seen he seems a bit out of touch with peoples actual concerns. Streetview as stated doesn't give you any visual information that you can't get just by driving somewhere yourself. It does a reasonable job of blurring faces, license plates and middle fingers. And as he stated, none of their available information is real time, although I am curious how often map data is actually updated.

Faller said:

I don't understand why this is a privacy concern. It's a view from the street on the internet. Yes if you are caught on street view doing something (the cars are mildly conspicuous) that you don't wish to show then complain. I don't know if they can redo a sweep of the house if you ask them to, but that's what I'd try. That being said, there's no reason for him to stoke the flame.

Timonius Timonius said:

One could always move out of major population centers. Google Street View may not be in some rural areas. It all depends on how obsessed one is with their privacy.

Guest said:

Privacy is tricky. and the writer is an ***** w/his last comment. Google does awesome ****en things to shake things up. They just sit there and say..how can disturb XXX,and you know what..its for the better, most obvious ANDROID

fadownjoo said:

Its just a joke, why does everyone need to jump on him? There is nothing wrong with streetview, it doesnt invade anyone privacy, especially since the pictures are very old.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

At some point M$ did state that "Blu-Ray would be passed over as a format". Which is exactly what I'm planning to do. (Although I certainly don't claim to speak for the majority).

Absolutely correct, no one I know have bothered to buy a blue ray device; so that says alot about transitional side of this tech. Now to street view, I have nothing more to say then -> Eric/Google = Arrogance Personified

Fragrant Coit Fragrant Coit said:

Schmidt is talking schmidt...............

XnaX said:

Wasn't it Lady Gaga who said "All PR is good PR"? Maybe Eric is her father and taught her that phrase? xD

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

The concept of piracy seems so accepted to many of you, with its blatant disregard to the intellectual property rights of others, seems to have brought on a complete disregard for your own physical property rights, with respect to being photographed.

Anytime an individual is photographed, in order for that image to be used in a commercial manner, a "model release" must be obtained. You must be of the age of consent to sign this document, and receive monetary compensation for the use of the image, or you have legal avenue to seek redress.

This can extend to property as well, and a property "model" release must be obtained to the same end.

Photographers have been stopped from making, (and selling), images of public buildings, such as stadiums, because they were not the "authorized" person to do so.

So, while this concept might be unenforceable, with a factory stock "X-Box", (since they presumably, "all look alike" , it could be enforceable with an X-Box that has been customized with a fantasy war scene painted on it. The same is true of a house, since each of them is, "customized", to a varying degree.

Since Google is rather obviously a commercial venture, they should be held to commercial standards, and be prepared to obtain signed property releases for those buildings photographed, in addition to providing compensation to the signatories of these documents.

In this situation, Google has everyone disadvantaged, since "reasonable compensation" in these instances, would probably be on the order of a dollar. That combined with the fact a class action lawsuit would have to be filed, and at the end of it, the affected individuals would get about twenty cents each, and the parasites (attorneys) would get about 30 cents from each individual settlement

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Schmidt is talking schmidt...............

Don't you mean, "bull schmidt"...?

Good one, BTW...!

Guest said:

I have checked, no he doesnt!

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