Eric Schmidt: Google user data now secured against unauthorized access

Avatar By Aaron Sims | 7 years ago

Is Google’s encryption for user data unbreakable?

That’s more or less the opinion of Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who joined the stage with Jared Cohen, a Google Ideas Director, and Stephen Levy from Wired magazine for a panel discussion in front of a crowd at South by South West (SXSW). Schmidt told Levy, the latter of whom was acting as the moderator for the discussion, that Google has more or less completed an effort to make sure that user data is safe from prying eyes. Whether those “prying eyes” belong to malicious foreign hackers or government officials from right here in the United States, Schmidt says that Google’s new level of encryption technology will not make a distinction.

According to a report from CNET, the panel discussion with Schmidt and Cohen covered a number of interesting questions regarding the Internet, its security, and the implications of events like last year’s massive NSA data leak. Schmidt and Cohen co-wrote a manuscript together last year, a book titled The New Digital Age, that looked at the changes that the Internet was continuing to drive throughout the world. The panel discussion hit a lot of the same points as the book, with Schmidt and Cohen giving further insight into the security breaches that Google has suffered at the hands of national and international governments.

Last year, the NSA worked to gain access to Google user information without permission. In 2010, the Chinese government did something similar. In Schmidt’s eyes, neither attack was much different from those of other hackers seeking to take advantage of private data. The executive chairman’s response to the attacks was to layer Google encryption security – something he believes will keep even governments from gaining access to Google’s user files again in the future. Of course, Google will still be subject to the covert government court orders of NSA spying programs like PRISM – a fact that it will have to face as long as it is based on United States soil.

Still, even though Schmidt is clearly not terribly fond of the United States government and its attempts to infringe upon the privacy rights of citizens, he also wouldn’t give a free pass to the hackers and whistleblowers who leaked information about the NSA and revealed the agency’s sordid methods to the public. Schmidt has reservations about what information should and should not be available to the public, and having himself been a victim of a leak – at the hands of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – the Google chairman wasn’t ready to herald men like Edward Snowden as heroes.