After AOL released sensitive user information, you just knew all attention would shift to Google. And here’s what Eric Schmidt has to say on the subject of user privacy:
“According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the search leader will continue to store the search inquiries of its users. What’s more, Schmidt does not even give an unqualified guarantee that the same thing could never happen at Google (you can never say never, he said). Thus, we have the leader among search engine giants admitting that the data of search queries could conceivably be compromised by some mishap. This is in itself bad enough news for law abiding users who believe that they should have a right to absolute privacy when they go online“
Well, at least he’s honest. It would be useful, however, to have a bit more transparency on this issue. What data is being kept, and what controls are in place to ensure that the data is anonymous? I think it is reasonable to allow websites to collect user data, but it is also reasonable for user to know what data is being collected and what it will used for, especially for something as sensitive as search query data.
With great power comes great responsibility, and AOL have shown that cracks can appear all too easily.