This winter, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
I saw the quote in an Australian infographic video that’s pretty fear-mongering when it comes to Google, so I wasn’t sure it was accurate. But I did my homework, and not only did he say it – he said it on CNBC.
Google’s breadth is intimidating to begin with, but a sentiment like Schmidt’s zooms right past privacy concerns into basic human rights.
Why would we have anything that we don’t want anyone to know, Eric? I don’t know, why do they make doors with locks on them? Why do we have doors at all? Why do we have walls? Why isn’t life lived in one giant cattle car, one massive open plan?
Because, Eric, the ability to keep yourself protected and feeling secure is a basic human need, one that is negated when someone removes your ability to do something that no one knows about. It’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
If what I need safe can’t be as protected as I want it to be, that’s knocking out that rung, and it’s only the second one up. The only things more basic are physiological needs. I won’t get to fulfilling needs like love, belonging, esteem, let alone self-actualization – not if I don’t feel safe.
The world Eric Schmidt is describing is one in which creativity like that which formed Google could not be possible.
Don’t get me started about options. I know I can choose to not have Google locate me on Latitude, share my read articles on Reader, etc. I know. But the point is, they’ve become so big that that becomes a flawed argument. It’s becoming increasingly like saying well, you could choose not to have the internet at all. I could choose not to eat any animal products, I could choose to only use words that don’t have the letter P in them. But if you choose a fairly common way to live your life, you should not be required to give up basic human rights to do so.