Along with other largest tech firms in the world, Google has been pressing the American government to be more transparent about the surveillance orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). Schmidt pointed out that the search giant has filed legal briefs to force the court to disclose more data.
Eric Schmidt also clarified that his comments were based on the presumption that information disclosed by Edward Snowden was “roughly accurate”. Snowden revealed that the NSA operated a program called PRISM, which internal agency documents claimed offered direct access to the servers of tech giants including Google. However, Google denied this characterization.
Schmidt, who has been at Google for a dozen years, said he believed most citizens of the United States would support the NSA working to protect people, but wouldn’t appreciate the government misuse of their information. Google also expressed concern that the publicity surrounding Snowden’s revelations would lead to the Internet becoming less global, as some countries tried to enact greater protections for their citizens.
Eric Schmidt explained that the real danger of this publicity is that other countries would try to put very serious encryption (so-called “balkanization”) – to essentially split the worldwide web and that the Internet would become more country specific. This could break the way the Internet works.
Google’s representative was also talking about innovation and the impact of new technologies on the society of the United States. In his talk, Schmidt dismissed criticisms by such experts as Evgeny Morozov, the Belarusian author of The Net Delusion, who were skeptical of claims that the worldwide web would lead to greater democratization. Eric Schmidt pointed out that Morozov was a unique critic in that he was the only one making those arguments, but he later added Julian Assange to the list as well.