"If you have something you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google

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One of the things I find most fascinating in the discussion of the NSA programs is that people are always thinking in terms of themselves.  "Well, I don't really have anything to hide."

That's the wrong question in some ways.

The question is what might a judge have to hide?   A politician?  A newspaper editor?  A corporate CEO?

How many people in positions of authority or power may be susceptible to manipulation?  Isn't it interesting how most of the American news media and politicians went dark on the substance of the NSA story within a week or two of when it broke?

What's the full context here? Is there more to it? Was he speaking at length? Was it in response to a question? Google's actions against child porn? What's the source?

Regardless, it's sage advice. I used to tell my Soldiers that if they couldn't tell me tomorrow what they were doing tonight, then they shouldn't be doing it. It's the same principle. If you don't do anything wrong, then you can't get in trouble for anything. It seems you are more worried about the perceived tone and how it comes off rather than what is actually being said.

Let's put this into a context where few  today need to hide. Homosexuals, decades ago, were not only breaking the law, but breaking long-standing (forever) social taboos. So, since they didn't want people to know what they were doing, they should simply have stopped making love, right?

There is not much that disgusts me quite as much as someone who says, "if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to hide". TRULY sickening. I have a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT to privacy. Unless what I do DIRECTLY affects someone else, NO ONE, including the government, has a right to interfere with.

"If you don't do anything wrong, then you can't get in trouble for anything."

<shudder> What is WRONG CHANGES and varies. Some things I do, YOU might consider to be wrong. What I consider to be a reasonable response to your opinion (starting with the letter "f"), YOU would consider to be an obscenity. I offer the same obscenity to those who still consider homosexual relations (and a myriad of former taboos) to be wrong.

"If you don't do anything wrong, then you can't get in trouble for anything."

<shudder> What is WRONG CHANGES and varies. 

- but we all have a sense of right and wrong.  We all modify our behaviour accordingly. 

" but we all have a sense of right and wrong"

But we do not all have the SAME sense of right and wrong (No objective morality). In fact our OWN sense of right and wrong changes over time. (="WRONG CHANGES and varies")

If my behaviour is public, I can expect some judgement from others. If my behaviour is private, I don't give a shit whether or not you think it's wrong.

But the difference between right and wrong is not "public" and "private".  It's "hurts others" or "does not hurt others". 

"It's "hurts others" or "does not hurt others"." You're just one false dichotomy after another, aren't you. I'd explain myself, but it's just too obvious to waste a paragraph on.

Sorry to upset your neat little world, but "hurts others" is not black and white. Say I decide to smoke a joint. I'm hurting neither myself nor anyone else. But I don't want anyone to know because it's against the law. The law is WRONG. Your contention (and, seemingly Hawk's) is that I shouldn't be doing this not because I'm harming anyone, but because the man says I mustn't smoke a joint. My basic human right to privacy in such a case EASILY supersedes some ignorant people's opinion and the laws they managed to railroad through.

"the man says I mustn't smoke a joint."  - but we didn't say that.  It doesn't hurt anyone.  Go ahead and toke. 

""It's "hurts others" or "does not hurt others"." You're just one false dichotomy after another, aren't you. I'd explain myself, but it's just too obvious to waste a paragraph on."  - why don't you? 

"but we didn't say that"

You must surely be the world champion at missing (or evading) the point.

I was just making a retort to what you said there. 

"It's "hurts others" or "does not hurt others".

What consideration might make a better starting point?

I went and found a source because you didn't provide it. Here's what he said in full.

If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time. And [...] we're all subject, in the US, to the Patriot Act, and it is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities.

It's not some elitist, self-righteous diatribe. He's saying we should be covering your own ass because regardless of what we do online and no matter how you try to hide it, it can be found out. He's saying that effectively there is no privacy on the internet despite what most people think. Everything can be tracked.

We have a basic right to privacy in the real world, in our homes (Griswald v. Conneticut and Lawrence v. Texas) and with our doctors for instance (Roe v. Wade), but there isn't any privacy in the virtual world. That's how the authorities find people who engage in child sex abuse. These people live in the dark corners of the internet on supposedly "secure" servers, yet they still bust child porn rings every couple months around the world. The same thing goes for cyber criminals.

This isn't about what people consider wrong or taboo, it's about having an expectation of privacy on the internet where that privacy just doesn't exist. Whether it should or not is a different matter, but all Eric Schmidt is doing is pointing out what is rather obvious from his vantage point in the industry: everything you do online has a digital trail and lots of people have a vested interest in tracking that data, and some with storing it indefinitely.

It's not an admonition, but a warning, the same warning I used to give my Soldiers.

(The interview was from 2009, and in hindsight, it almost seems like he's trying to warn us about the NSA and PRISM specifically.)

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