DENVER – Google CEO Eric Schmidt told an audience here at The Big Tent that the most common question he gets when he travels abroad is why Google insists on “supporting American hegemony.” Schmidt explained that “free speech is not a universal value” and that Google’s commitment to open accessible information is “seen as so obviously American worldwide.”
Big Tent host Rachel Maddow earlier pressed Schmidt on Google’s cooperation with China, but Schmidt insisted that the way they worked with Chinese censors (by marking where each censored word or sentence was changed) insured that many smart Chinese people would eventually track down the original and unedited versions.
Maddow also wanted to know if consumers should be afraid of the reams of personal information Google sucks up from them everyday. Schmidt was pretty dismissive insisting that Google only kept their data on consumers for 18 months at a time. He also said: “Government has guns. We don’t. We follow the law.” Schmidt said that Google has fought hard against government search warrants for their data, and have convinced federal judges they do not have to fork over that data. Schmidt did not say if Google ever sold their data to third parties who could then easily sell it to the government.
One other item of note … Schmidt mentioned that his earliest technology ventures were all funded with grants from DARPA. The liberals in the audience all took this as support of their plans for massive new central planning for a new green economy infrastructure. But really, allowing DARPA to fund promising technologies and then allowing the market to ultimately pick winners and losers, is actually a conservative model for technological change.