A ‘most private place’: Trust Google with your data above government bodies, says Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt

Executive chairman of Google parent continues Asia swing via live video conference, tells audience ‘you can control what Google keeps of you’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 November, 2015, 1:51pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 November, 2015, 1:52pm

Google is the “safest and most private place” to store data, Alphabet Inc. executive chairman Eric Schmidt said this week as he addressed privacy concerns over data collected by Google’s machine- learning mechanisms.

Machine learning is a branch of computer science in which algorithms are constructed to learn from data and make more accurate predictions over time.

Google uses such mechanisms in a variety of its services, including improving its search engine services, filtering spam in Gmail and classifying users’ photos in its Google Photos app.

“We work very hard to keep people’s data private and to give [them] control over it,” Schmidt said during a live video conference with reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday.

“You can control what Google keeps of you … and we keep your data protected using incredibly powerful encryption.”

Schmidt also condemned government hacking of technology companies, adding that Google is a safer place to entrust your data than government agencies or bodies.

“We are upset that it appears that the US government and the Chinese government … have attacked computer companies without permission,” said Schmidt.

Google went head to head with the Chinese government in 2009 over allegations that Chinese hackers had breached Google’s servers to access sensitive information.

China has blocked Google’s services on the mainland, and the company ceased its search engine operations in China in 2010.

However, recent comments by Google executives including Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin have hinted the company may return to China in the near future.

READ MORE: Google ‘never left’ China, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt says at tech conference in Beijing

Late last month, Brin told the Wall Street Journal that some Alphabet business units may soon re-establish themselves in the country.

On Tuesday, Schmidt reiterated for the second time this month that the company is “negotiating” with the Chinese government, and said that he was impressed by the scale and growth of the country.

“China is going to do well. There is a whole narrative that China is slowing, but it has a lot of growth ahead of it,” said Schmidt.

“There is a great deal of potential in their economy,” he said.

“You get a sense there is a lot more room to grow in China.”

Speculation is rife in China that a local version of Google Play may soon be launched, with local media reports suggesting Google has registered domains such as googleplaychinaedition.com and googlechinaedition.com.

Pundits also see Google’s tie-up with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei in producing the Google Nexus 6P smartphone as a sign that China’s stance towards the US company is softening.