Google's Mega-Hypocrite Says His Privacy Is More Important than Yours

Unlike its disruptive, transatlantic neighbor, Europe still cares about privacy. That's why a European high court just affirmed the right to selectively erase oneself from Google. Google's privacy-adoring Eric Schmidt thinks this is a mistake. That is about as hypocritical as it gets.

The EU ruling, as Forbes reports, will require "Google and other search engines to restrict searches on the names of private citizens that turn up information those private citizens would prefer the rest of the world didn't see." The entire legal battle was triggered by one Spanish citizen's desire to have an unflattering notice about his debts in the late 80s stricken from Google—benign by web-shame standards. The Guardian relays the opposition of Google's executive chairman:

"A simple way of understanding what happened here is that you have a collision between a right to be forgotten and a right to know. From Google's perspective that's a balance," said Schmidt. "Google believes, having looked at the decision which is binding, that the balance that was struck was wrong."

"The right to know" really means "Google's right to know," as the company's business is predicated upon keeping tabs on (and selling ads to) you. Any exceptions are reserved for people like Eric Schmidt: Recode's John Paczkowski wryly calls this talk of "balance" a case of "selective memory" on Schmidt's part, that's being kind. Let's not forget that this same Google exec who thinks the legal right to chisel your embarrassing results off the internet is "wrong" has done exactly that to preserve his own reputation.

In 2005, News.com was barred from Google after reporting critically on the company and Eric Schmidt.

In 2010, former CNBC and Forbes staffer Kate Bohner detailed her affair with (married) Schmidt, revealing a great deal about the exec's private life and some embarrassing anecdotes about Steve Jobs. The blog—which hadn't even mentioned Schmidt by name—followed in a long, hallowed, mundane tradition of writing anonymously online about paramours. Unlike everyone else, her Google-hosted tell-all blog was yanked down after Schmidt and his lawyers took offense.

In 2011, it came out that Schmidt had tried (unsuccessfully) to get records of past political donations stricken from the search engine.

And just last year, Schmidt quickly deleted his Instagram account after we took a peek at it.

You don't need a right to be forgotten if you're at the helm of the company that decides what gets forgotten. Or you can afford a fleet of powerful, expensive lawyers to help get dishy Blogger accounts deactivated. The rest of us will have to lean on regulatory bodies and legal bulwarks, because it's clear Google's not interested in letting us be forgotten—that is, unless you draw an enormous compensation package from Google. Maybe people who can afford to fly private to Nantucket or maintain a soundproof sex penthouse shouldn't be making global privacy policy?

In 2009, Schmidt had little sympathy for anyone afraid of Google's omnipresent forever-memory. He said the following before a live audience: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." That's radical, heartless, and not a little sinister, but at least it's consistent. But if he really believed those words, he'd let us read his girlfriends' blogs.

Photo: Getty