Schmidt cries joke over privacy comments

Google's Eric Schmidt has attempted to distance himself from questionable comments regarding future anonymity on the web, claiming he was making a joke.

Schmidt, Google's CEO, has an interesting interpretation of the future of privacy which we've covered here before - but when he claimed that future generations would have to change their name upon reaching their majority in order to escape the 'permanent record' that social media sites would store on them, many believed that he crossed a line.

Clearly Schmidt is feeling the backlash from his comments, as he has recently appeared on The Colbert Report in the US to perform some damage limitation.

According to SearchEngineWatch, which spotted Schmidt's appearance on the show, he told Colbert during the televised interview that his comment about name changes "was a joke," but, "It just wasn't very good" - which is probably why very few people are laughing right now.

Even if we accept Schmidt's explanation that his comment was meant in jest, it's a scary thing for the chief executive of a major data harvester to be kidding about - the fact that Google will, and indeed does, scoop up every little piece of information you post anywhere on the Internet and keep it ad infinitum, to be found by future employers, spouses, children, and grandchildren for years to come.

For a company which claims not to do evil, and which highlights government interference in what it claims should be a neutral Internet, Google certainly does a good job of appearing creepy - even if it is only in jest.