Google tries to soothe fears over privacy

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The Independent Online

Google looked to soothe consumer concerns over privacy in the wake of recent issues at its Street View business yesterday, saying it was the safest company for online data.

Eric Schmidt, the chief executive at Google, said: "We are not in denial over how important the question is," before adding that the company has "the most privacy-centric services of any of the companies on the web".

The company has come under fire after it revealed that engineers in its Street View cars had mistakenly gathered personal data from Wi-Fi in the areas they were photographing. Mr Schmidt told Google's Zeitgeist partner conference in a hotel near Watford that the company had taken the issues very seriously and has now deleted data gathered in Ireland, Austria and Denmark.

Google believes that there are more problems with the amount of personal data on social networking sites. Mr Schmidt said: "As a society, we have not figured out what we want to do with all of this new technology. There are people out there who have put their entire private lives out there on social networks."

Larry Page, one of Google's founders, agreed, saying his business "isn't like people publishing information online, which can then cause them direct harm."

Another problem facing the company comes from the publishing industry, and especially Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which has criticised Google for using its news content to generate advertising revenues. Mr Schmidt said that he has held "constructive" conversations with Mr Murdoch, and added that beyond the public perception, the two are friends.

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