Social media: do we need new rules?

As Google CEO Eric Schmidt suggests young people may need to change their names to escape their online past, web users are coming to terms with how careful they need to be online

Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, is developing a reputation for making bold and often controversial statements about privacy online. Last year he said baldly: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Then at the weekend he suggested to the Wall Street Journal that young people might change their names when they come of age in order to distance themselves from their embarrassing online past. Neither of those ideas will calm the growing number of consumers and pressure groups who express concern at Google’s power.

After all, Google keeps the (admittedly anonymous) search records from individual computers for nine months; its Gmail programme looks at users’ emails to provide relevant adverts; and the Streetview mapping service has a picture of almost every house in the UK. And when the cars that took those pictures turned out to have collected small snippets of data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks, Schmidt defended the company by saying there had been “no harm, no foul”. He even asked journalists to “name the person” who had been harmed. While he had a point, the attitude appeared to place practicality over principle: as the Conservative MP Robert Halfon later put it, “Google had crossed the boundaries between technological advancement and personal privacy.”

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Zafar on August 19, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Keep it up


  2. very informative article


  3. yeah alot


  4. There is no privacy on the net. Use nicknames! (Though even they won’t help sometimes.)


  5. I wanna rule my social media profiles


  6. Posted by asobah on August 19, 2010 at 11:20 am

    thats a nice one


  7. Quite Nice !!!


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