Eric Schmidt: 'Google IS a capitalist country... er, company'

Also - ad giant ISN'T as powerful as governments


Big Tent Google is just conforming to the way the global tax system works, the company's executive chairman Eric Schmidt said today as he rejected the criticism levelled at the ad giant by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

"We're trying to do the right thing, not the wrong thing," Schmidt said. He was speaking at Google's annual Big Tent event in Watford - which was completely overshadowed by the tax row that has engulfed the multinational in the UK.

The Google co-founder added that it was up to governments around the world to "sort this out", and reminded the audience that "taxes are not a choice".

Schmidt said: "Google is following the international tax regime ... Virtually all American companies operate like this."

He agreed, however, that there was "no doubt governments need more money."

But he also seemed keen to distance himself from the tax row by claiming:

Governments have a lot more power than we do ... if the law changes, we will follow it.

Schmidt repeatedly said that Google adores the UK and added that any changes to the tax rules brought in, for example, by a Labour government, would be respected.

Google really loves the UK and its flexible tax system

As for the value of Google to the British economy, Schmidt pointed out that the company's "free" services were widely used by UK citizens.

We not only respect tax rules - we are champions of privacy, too

Schmidt is currently touting The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future, and so was unsurprisingly keen to explore some of the themes of his book with the gathered crowd.

He offered up a nugget that elicited a tiny gasp from at least some sections of the audience:

We need to fight for privacy or we are going to lose it.

When challenged about that comment by privacy campaigner Emma Carr from Big Brother Watch, Schmidt replied:

There's this concern that we are somehow going to misuse this data and we're not telling you. This is simply not the case.

I can assure from a privacy perspective ... we would lose you and not get you back.

He added that Google had a "clear business incentive" to protect a user's data and warned that everyone should fight for privacy online "before it is taken away from us". His punchline was to say that Google is not the company eroding privacy on the web - that's other less scrupulous outfits, apparently.

When pressed once more about whether Google had been "wrong" to cough up a piddling UK tax bill, as argued by Miliband earlier today, Schmidt let slip an amusing blooper.

"Google is a capitalist country... company," he said. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Tencent admits to poisoned QR code attack on QQ chat platform
    Could it be Beijing was right about games being bad for China?

    Chinese web giant Tencent has admitted to a significant account hijack attack on its QQ.com messaging and social media platform.

    In a post to rival social media platform Sina Weibo – a rough analog of Twitter – Tencent apologized for the incident.

    The problem manifested on Sunday night and saw an unnamed number of QQ users complain their credentials no longer allowed them access to their accounts. Tencent has characterized that issue as representing "stolen" accounts.

    Continue reading
  • Carnival Cruises torpedoed by US states, agrees to pay $6m after waves of cyberattacks
    Now those are some phishing boats

    Carnival Cruise Lines will cough up more than $6 million to end two separate lawsuits filed by 46 states in the US after sensitive, personal information on customers and employees was accessed in a string of cyberattacks.

    A couple of years ago, as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold, the Miami-based biz revealed intruders had not only encrypted some of its data but also downloaded a collection of names and addresses; Social Security info, driver's license, and passport numbers; and health and payment information of thousands of people in almost every American state.

    It all started to go wrong more than a year prior, as the cruise line became aware of suspicious activity in May 2019. This apparently wasn't disclosed until 10 months later, in March 2020.

    Continue reading
  • India extends deadline for compliance with infosec logging rules by 90 days
    Helpfully announced extension on deadline day

    India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the local Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) have extended the deadline for compliance with the Cyber Security Directions introduced on April 28, which were due to take effect yesterday.

    The Directions require verbose logging of users' activities on VPNs and clouds, reporting of infosec incidents within six hours of detection - even for trivial things like unusual port scanning - exclusive use of Indian network time protocol servers, and many other burdensome requirements. The Directions were purported to improve the security of local organisations, and to give CERT-In information it could use to assess threats to India. Yet the Directions allowed incident reports to be sent by fax – good ol' fax – to CERT-In, which offered no evidence it operates or would build infrastructure capable of ingesting or analyzing the millions of incident reports it would be sent by compliant organizations.

    The Directions were roundly criticized by tech lobby groups that pointed out requirements such as compelling clouds to store logs of customers' activities was futile, since clouds don't log what goes on inside resources rented by their customers. VPN providers quit India and moved their servers offshore, citing the impossibility of storing user logs when their entire business model rests on not logging user activities. VPN operators going offshore means India's government is therefore less able to influence such outfits.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022