August 9, 2006 3:07 PM PDT

Google says it won't pull an AOL

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Google users should have faith that their Web searches won't end up being public information like they have at AOL, according to Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

"We have systems in place that won't allow it to happen," Schmidt told reporters Wednesday after a keynote discussion at the Search Engine Strategies conference here. "Our No. 1 priority is the trust our users have, and that would be a violation of trust, so the answer is that would not happen."

However, during the keynote discussion, Schmidt had hedged a bit, saying, "We are reasonably satisfied...that this kind of thing could not happen at Google," before adding, "Never say never."

AOL apologized on Monday for releasing search log data on subscribers that had been intended for use with a newly launched research site. While the data was anonymous, it revealed disturbingly sensitive and personal information about users that privacy advocates said could be traced back to specific individuals.

"Maybe it wasn't a good idea to release the data," Schmidt said in the conference session. "There are many things inside our company that we don't share...starting with user queries...I always thought it was fertile ground for the government to snoop."

He noted that Google fought a request from the Department of Justice for similar data, the scope of which a judge limited, giving the search giant a partial victory. "That's an example of how strongly we take this issue," Schmidt said.

The chief executive complained about Web sites that publish sensitive data, such as anti-abortion sites that reveal addresses for clinics and doctors. "Google is simply an aggregator of information, and the people who publish that information better have a good reason for publishing it," he said.

"The good news about these sites is that they're not in the first page (of search results and that) the number of crazy people is small," he said. "We worry a lot about this because we want Google to be used as a positive force in the world. We're convinced that the overwhelming value of having all that information available to you...really does justify what we do."

Asked if Google, which owns a 5 percent stake in AOL, had contacted the Time Warner subsidiary to discuss the privacy breach, Schmidt said he had not personally made any calls because he has been in "deal mode" with other companies. "I don't want to criticize AOL. They're a good partner of ours," he said.

Google has been busy making agreements designed to expand its lucrative online advertising network. On Monday, the search giant announced an advertising and search deal with, the most popular social-networking site. Also this week, Google said it would distribute ad-supported clips from MTV's cable networks over its targeted AdSense advertising network.

"These are big expansions of new content which we believe will be very successful to our advertisers," he said. "It's obvious that much of the world's video will be put onto the Web or repurposed for the Web," and the content owners will want to monetize it.

"We've always wanted to expand our advertising reach and our advertising network and monetize other forms of content," Schmidt added.

"We, in fact, are many of the online communities, to many of the content companies, as we should," he said. "Their models are also changing, and we're learning from them."

MTV Networks President Michael Wolfe contacted Google even before he joined MTV last year, Schmidt said. "He suggested to us (doing) targeted ads for video online," Schmidt said. "He calls me and says, 'Why don't we try to build this product?'"

Radio also is a big opportunity for advertising, particularly targeted advertising from Google, which is testing selling radio ads after its acquisition of radio ad provider dMarc Broadcasting.

"Targetable radio ads are starting now," he said. "Targeted measurable television ads on the Internet are starting now. We're thinking about using our system for every form of ad."

Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch, which is hosting the conference, joked that Google was releasing many products that touch on so many different parts of people's lives it could be threatening. "I want to say, 'I surrender. Give me the Google implant,'" he quipped, before asking if Google's reach has limits.

Google has a "master plan" to solve people's online problems, Schmidt said. "The test we apply is not whether we think the product is great or whether we love it or use it, but does it fundamentally impact the way people use the Internet?"

Schmidt said he does a Web search anywhere from 15 to 100 times a day. "It's a different way of living your life because if you always have Google around you can always ask questions," he said.

See more CNET content tagged:
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Great and Glorious God Google
There is something in common between AOL and the Stepford Wives. AOL was always too "nice" and "simple" and "inviting". I dumped AOL back in the 90's after subscribing to them for less than 3 months. I remember the day I called to close my account. They fought me and begged me and pleaded and offered and joked and did everything they could ... but cancel my account. It was like trying to quit a cult. It was awful! So, it was no surprise to me that AOL violated the trust and privacy of their members (victims).

The thought that Google might do something that horrible really scares me. I am a true Googler. My homepage is Google. My email is Gmail. My browser helper is Google toolbar. I use (and love) Google Earth. I play with Google Sketch-Up. I keep track of my week with Google Calendar. I chat with Google Talk. I search with Google Scholar and Google Government search. I access Google Video from my Google homepage. My blog is hosted on Blogspot (Google) and I use Google Blosgsearch and Google Booksearch almost on a daily basis.

Most major religions claim that their concept of "God" is that he/she/it/them is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. It all sounds very much like the growing knowledge, presence and power of The Great Google.

If the Great God Google every decides to rat on me, I have nowhere to hide. If Osama bin Laden was a Google fan, we'd be able to nab him in a heartbeat!
Posted by dunnsanfrancisco (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
choose your post 20th century god
apple, aol, google....?

trust us, we're a corporation.

post 20th century devils?

microsoft, enron , att ? ( check whose got your phone records recently?)

man, people are dumb.;)
smiles everyone smiles---Mr. Roarke
Posted by cube3 (190 comments )
Link Flag
GOOGLE is the first "Friendly" AI
We have been living with Virtual life forms ever since the first Internet Worm was released.

Goodlife, and Badlife. As a Berserker would say.

Now the first silicon life form that is smarter than us knows more about us than we do.

Do the adsense ads on your screen suddenly offer head hunter sites. Maybe google correlated your boss's search for outplacement.

Unlike a worm, which is capable of autonimous travel, google is fed, massaged, and taught by humans. As long as google management can keep the bean counters from discovering new "REVENUE STREAMS" in the data mine, we will be safe. But as we see over and over in american management, sooner or later the BEAN COUNTERS SPOIL THE SOUP.

Think of the millions google could make just from reporting all queries about expensive yachts, airplains, electric speedsters (never though i would get to see that one get built,) and other lifestyle purchases to the IRS. (IRS pays 10% i hear!)

We MUST trust google, i trust present google management. They must put measures in place now to protect the company from bottom-lineism.
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
Link Flag
Search proxies
Are simple and easy to use been around for at least 3 years.

Heres a freebie to get you started.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by talledega500 (23 comments )
Link Flag
There is one caveat to Google's statement
they pledge privacy unless of course China waves a buck in front of their noses and asks...then Google will hand over the launch codes to the nuclear missles
Posted by jachamp (84 comments )
Reply Link Flag
According to Googles to testimony under oath to a congressional hearing on the way U.S companies conduct business in China and other repressive countries, the only service they offer in China is their search engine. They've also stated that their servers for Gmail and Blogger etc etc are located in the U.S, therefore any request from China for user information can be reviewed and blocked by the U.S government should they choose to exercise it. Over government while criticising Google etc have ratified the European Cybercrime Treaty that lets other countries demand data from ISP and websites etc in the U.S. Since their is no dual criminality requirement it doesn't have to be crime here in order for the request to be granted.
If China were to sign on (which they could if they wanted to) they might be able to compell Google etc to legally to turn over information even if it's on their U.S based servers. Talk about hypocrisy on the part of government.

Let's not forget it was Yahoo that willingly went along with Chinese authorities and turned over email etc that lead to at least a few people being imprisoned. Let's also remember that Yahoo, MSN, and AOL all turned over search data without a fight to the U.S government in a matter unrelated to a criminal investigation. Given the record of each company I am more apt to trust Google. Other companies log search data just like Google, but only Google seems to get heat for it, and they have the best record of defending that data from being release to other parties.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag - feed me up ...
I found this article through the tech section of, seems numerous syndications are pushing this story today ...
Posted by JoeCrow (83 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But it's not their data
danny_f writes "At the end of the day it is their data," which is the whole problem when it comes to personal information. The data, in this case, do not belong to Google, they belong to the individuals searching for something. We, as a society haven't quite realized this yet, but the more that our privacy is invaded by disclosure the more we will.

And, just to complete the picture, this problem doesn't just exist with respect to disclosing personal information. It also exists were we can't even get to our information so we don't know what's being done with it--think doctors, hospitals, credit agencies, credit card processors--none of us know can even view the information they have on us so we can't know what they're doing with it.
Posted by Raemir (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Join "Hyper-Alarmists Anonymous" TODAY!
"... which is the whole problem when it comes to personal information ..."

Maybe we should just get rid of personal information all together??

Or maybe we should realize there is always a risk of someone/some corporation illegally misusing provided information, and take appropriate measures, as well as take a small degree of personal responsibility for simple things like words we type in a search bar. For record's sake, I don't remember ever checking a box saying, "Everything I type in this search bar can only be used at my discretion. No marketing decisions, data processing, or future decisions may be made based on the words I type in this search bar."

OF COURSE it's THEIR DATA, no less than the personal info attached to your username here is CNET's data. Obviously there are restrictions for the use of this data (making it public, etc.), but it's their's. You know how I know? Because YOU GAVE IT TO THEM.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled "panties in a wad corporation bashing hyper-alarmist bandwagon " antics ...
Posted by fewcomments (19 comments )
Link Flag
User trust?
It's NOT their data! You want user trust?...Don't archive the data! THEN I'll trust you.
Posted by BKHerbert (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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