Censorship will be gone in a decade: Google’s Schmidt

Executive chairman says censorship-surveillance cycle will end in defeat for speech-blockers

Tags: Google IncorporatedUSA
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Censorship will be gone in a decade: Google’s Schmidt Schmidt: I think the censors will lose, and I think that people [will] be empowered. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  November 21, 2013

Google Inc's executive chairman Eric Schmidt yesterday predicted that censorship across the globe would disappear within a decade, Reuters reported.

"First they try to block you; second, they try to infiltrate you; and third, you win. I really think that's how it works," he said during a lecture at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

"I believe there's a real chance that we can eliminate censorship and the possibility of censorship in a decade," he proclaimed.

Long an outspoken free-speech advocate, earlier this year, Schmidt travelled to North Korea to try to promote his ideas - a venture that drew criticism from the US State Department because it closely followed North Korea's test of a long-range rocket.

When NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the US government's surveillance programme, Schmidt, at the time, condemned the practice, but Google has often found itself embroiled in controversy over its own relationship with privacy. In 2010 - during Schmidt's tenure as CEO, which ended in 2011 - the Web giant was forced to acknowledge that while mapping the world's streets for its Google Maps project, its specialised mapping vehicles had inadvertently collected personal data, including passwords, from home wireless networks. And this week the company paid out $17m over allegations that it had tracked iPhone users through the handset's Web browser.

But despite these incidents Google has continued to try to paint itself as a privacy champion, publicising the increased length and complexity of its encryption keys.

In his lecture, Schmidt sought to link privacy to censorship.

"It's pretty clear to me that government surveillance and the way in which governments are doing this will be here to stay in some form, because it's how the citizens will express themselves, and the governments will want to know what they're doing," he said.

"In that race, I think the censors will lose, and I think that people would be empowered."

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