Update: Google CEO Schmidt says he 'misspoke' on Street View privacy concerns
Update at 11:55 a.m.: quote from Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google
Google on Tuesday released a statement by CEO Eric Schmidt saying he "misspoke" during an interview last week on CNN, when he said users concerned with its Street View mapping service should "just move."
"As you can see from the unedited interview, my comments were made during a fairly long back and forth on privacy. I clearly misspoke. If you are worried about Street View and want your house removed please contact Google and we will remove it," Schmidt said in a statement.
Google’s Street View privacy flap generated response not just about the Wi-Fi data breach, but also whether the mapping application itself overreaches.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt didn't help the company's growing image problem during an interview last week when he said, perhaps in jest, that those concerned with its photographing of streets and homes should "just move." Those comments were later edited out of the interview posted on CNN.com's Web site, sparking speculation that the company pushed the cable network to extract the remarks.
Google denies it influenced CNN's decision.
“It was a long interview, there was a long back-and-forth on privacy, and CNN edited the interview down to what they thought was most interesting and relevant,” a Google spokesperson said in an e-mail. “Editorial decisions are clearly CNN’s, so you would have to contact them to ask them why they aired what they did.”
But the episode highlights sensitivity by some Post Tech readers about Google's privacy practices.
Some said people should do a better job of making their Wi-Fi networks more secure and debate about how much outrage users should feel over Google’s cars collecting e-mails and URL data from residential Wi-Fi networks.
One reader noted that the Street View application itself is troublesome. The application, in 32 countries, gives rooftop, street level and front-door views of addresses. The application is part of Google’s mapping products and will be used for location-based services on mobile phones.
“Is there a reason that none of us are questioning Google's Street View project, which gave rise to this overreach? Or Google's manifest-destiny approach to hoovering up all the data in the world?
I was so envious when I read in Thursday's Post that Germans have the legal right not to appear on Street View. Google will be providing a blurring tool for Germans -- but not for us. Kinda sad when everyone else in the world has better privacy rights than Americans.” Posted by: “westomoon”
Actually, Google says you can in fact blur your home on Street View by its “report a problem” function on its explainer page. I just submitted my request to remove the image of my home … let’s see if it works. Readers: if you do the same, let Post Tech know about your experience in the comments section.
Google won’t give numbers on how many U.S. homes have opted out of the Street View application. But it did gave figures for Germany, saying last week in a blog post that 244,000 households in Germany’s 20 largest cities had formally requested that their homes be blurred before the launch of the service there in several weeks.
Andreas Türk, product manger for Street View in Germany, said the requests represented about 3 percent of the 8.5 million households in those cities.
Consumer advocates say most users won’t go to the trouble of voluntarily opting out of the program and better protections should be introduced by Google or imposed by federal enforcement officials.
“Google is trapped in its own success: It can’t step off the digital data collection treadmill with Facebook and others in hot pursuit,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of Center for Digital Democracy. “But consumers and citizens should expect more honesty coming from the “don’t do evil” Web giant – not just new promises to better behave.”
Also of interest from Post Tech:
Google "mortified" Street View cars scarfed up e-mails, Web pages, passwords.
| October 26, 2010; 11:12 AM ET
Categories: FTC, Google, Privacy
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