Privacy Ignorance - Was Eric Schmidt thinking?

Eric Schmidt said in a CNBC special recently that “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place!”

And yet the reaction to this flagrant ignorance of basic privacy is met with mixed reactions. Some are criticizing, others are agreeing. Garett Rogers at ZDnet is even brown-nosing at Google's CEO for some reason with a statement I couldn't agree with him more!

It would have been easy to just start ranting about the generic ignorance of Eric Schmidt for anything private. But i wanted to see what will the google engine do with something that I don't want anyone to know, and yet i could't prevent it from happening - ILLNESS

I created a series of e-mails which i exchanged between two gmail accounts. It took 3 e-mails for gmail to suddenly start offering me anti-allergy bracelets, and refer me to doctors in their adsense. Now, google engines know that I have an allergy. Here are the transcripts - word for word of those e-mails

I appologize for not being on time, but i had to visit a doctor
Apparently, i have developed some form of allergy. I will need to be treated with anti-allergy drugs for some time.

They are still investigating which medicine is the best

See you around
I am very sorry about your situation. I have had some rash issues myself some time ago, and I got prescribed Singulair and Alavert. Maybe you should mention those to your doctor as possibilities

Be safe
Alavert is for allergies. So i'll be mentioning it to my doctor


All it takes is 3 very short texts for google engines know that you are ill. And those may be e-mails you exchanged with your physician. It is quite obvious that the automated engines use this information - i got relevant commercials.

So I would ask Mr Schmidt:
  • Nobody chooses to be ill, and information about health is exchanged via e-mail, so now Google knows it. So, please answer - what Google won't do with this information?
And I will ask Mr Brin and Mr Page:
  • Do you support that the CEO of your company stated that it's our fault that Google knows something that is very private and confidential?

Talkback and comments are most welcome

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Sam said...

Very informative post from you! Interesting that it only took PRIVATE emails for gmail to start targeting you. I wrote about privacy in one of my latest posts:

It is really worrying that our privacy is becoming so hard to keep!

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