2013 11 04 WSJ Google’s Eric Schmidt Lambasts NSA Over Spying, Following New Snowden Revelations – WSJ.com


Google’s Eric Schmidt Lambasts NSA Over Spying


Google Inc. GOOG -1.28%

Executive Chairman

Eric Schmidt

reacted to reports that the U.S. government allegedly spied on the company’s data centers, describing such an act as “outrageous” and potentially illegal if proven.

“It’s really outrageous that the National Security Agency was looking between the Google data centers, if that’s true. The steps that the organization was willing to do without good judgment to pursue its mission and potentially violate people’s privacy, it’s not OK,” Mr. Schmidt told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. “The Snowden revelations have assisted us in understanding that it’s perfectly possible that there are more revelations to come.”

Mr. Schmidt said Google had registered complaints with the NSA, as well as President

Barack Obama

and members of the U.S. Congress.

“The NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be a risk. It’s just bad public policy…and perhaps illegal,” he said.

When contacted Monday, the NSA referred to its statement last week that said recent press articles about the agency’s collection had misstated facts and mischaracterized the NSA’s activities.

“NSA conducts all of its activities in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies—and assertions to the contrary do a grave disservice to the nation, its allies and partners, and the men and women who make up the National Security Agency,” it said in a statement last week.

Mr. Schmidt said in the interview that the right balance of security and privacy starts with finding the appropriate level of oversight.

“There clearly are cases where evil people exist, but you don’t have to violate the privacy of every single citizen of America to find them,” he said.

Separately, Mr. Schmidt said in order for Google to restart its China-based search engine, the Chinese government would need to change its heavy-handedness on censorship. “China’s censorship regime has gotten significantly worse since we left so something would have to change before we come back,” he said.

Google in 2011 rerouted its China-based search engine to Hong Kong due to censorship concerns.

In his role as executive chairman, Mr. Schmidt has taken to engaging governments around the world and promoting free speech on the Internet. He traveled to North Korea last January in hopes that he may be able “to convince the government it’s in their interest to open up a little bit.”

“They [North Korea] need the Internet for electronic commerce and for business and they are certainly grappling with issues of food availability, education and social unrest.”

When asked where Mr. Schmidt wanted to travel next, he said Cuba was at the top of his list.

—Danny Yadron in San Francisco contributed to this article.

Write to Deborah Kan at Deborah.Kan