We’ve all read the words from the Google CEO, but in case you’ve been living under a rock, I’ll repeat them once more. “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” Schmidt argued, “If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines – including Google – do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”
Personally, the most important reason why I find Schmidt’s words upsetting is that for me, as a Dutch citizen, the Patriot Act bears absolutely no relevance. If this was really all about the Patriot Act, then at least Google could make sure that data on international users was handled differently – but I doubt it. Lest we forget, a company like Google, which makes most of its revenue through advertising, benefits greatly from data retention – things like the Patriot Act provide them with the perfect excuse to do so.
The Mozilla-Google relationship is an interesting one, and Dotzler’s words only makes it more complicated than it already is. About 97% of Mozilla’s income comes from Google, so the search giant plays a vital role in the development of not only Chrome, but also Firefox. The relationship between the two got interesting when Chrome arrived, and when Google Chrome Frame was announced, Mozilla expressed concerns it could “fragment the web”. This latest spat doesn’t do anything to warm the waters.
Mozilla isn’t urging users to switch to Bing. Rather, Mozilla’s director of community development, writing on his own blog, is doing so. If Google threatens to cut off funding, we might see Mozilla looking for a new director of community development.