Google's Eric Schmidt rejects criticism from Julian Assange, FBI

Google's executive chair is denying allegations about the company's relationship with intelligence and law enforcement officials. He also reveals his biggest fear about the internet in an interview with CBC's The Current.

Search engine chairman discusses how Google works, reveals his biggest fear

Schmidt, co-author of the new book Google: How Google Works, spoke to CBC's The Current on topics ranging from the company's successes to its flops to the significance of its motto: Don't be Evil. (CBC)

Eric Schmidt, executive chair of Google, is disputing allegations that Google sells services to U.S. intelligence officials and works against law enforcement.

"There is no relationship and no linkage between the National Security Agency and Google," Schmidt told CBC's The Current Monday. "There wasn't one, there isn't one, and there's not going to be one."

Schmidt, co-author of the new book Google: How Google Works, was defending himself against allegations made by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in his new book When Google met WikiLeaks..

In an interview about the book on CBC's Q in late September, Assange said Google has been selling search services to the U.S. National Security Agency since 2002.

"It is formally part of the defence industrial base," Assange told Q last week. "Further, this close connection between Google's business activities, a business model which it can't get away from, and the U.S. government created an opportunity for the National Security Agency to sink its fangs into everything that Google was collecting."

Schmidt told Anna Maria Tremonti, host of The Current, that "virtually everything Julian says is not correct."

He added that after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 that British intelligence officials were intercepting Google data, Google has been encrypting all its data.

"I can say to you with quite a bit of surety, as a person who is a relatively serious computer scientist here, the safest place you can put your information is on Google right now."

Schmidt covered a wide variety of topics in his interview with The Current, ranging from the company's successes to its flops to the significance of its motto: Don't be Evil.

FBI concerned about Android encryption

He also responded to public criticism from a top U.S. law enforcement official.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey told reporters in late September that he was "very concerned" about Apple and Google's encryption of smartphone data.

Comey alleged the companies were "marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law."

Schmidt called the allegation false.

He added that Google recently decided to make encryption between Android phones and their servers the default option "in direct response to governments not following their own rules.

"Should the FBI wish to have legal information to pursue criminals and so forth and so on, in America there is a very very well-established process of subpoenas which we fully comply with."

Schmidt said his greatest fear about the internet is that it could end.

"The concept of having every human reachable by every other human is an extraordinarily valuable thing," he said. But he added that he is "very worried" that governments will start to ban broad internet use.

"And society will miss one of the great peace-loving tools."


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