WikiLeaks has released the full transcript of a five-hour conversation between Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and the whistleblowing site's founder Julian Assange.
The two held a secret meeting in 2011 — while Assange was under house arrest in England, according to The Verge — apparently as part of Schmidt's research with Jared Cohen for their book The New Digital Age, set to hit shelves on Tuesday.
Whether or not the leak was meant as a publicity stunt to help market Schmidt's book is unclear. But the lengthy conversation moves from the light-hearted — Assange explaining bitcoins, Cohen blaming Delta Air Lines for his late arrival — to the heavy.
At one point, Schmidt pointed to the widespread criticism of WikiLeaks and the damage its releases have caused, but told Assange that "obviously we are sympathetic to" his work in the operation. In his defence, Assange later compared WikiLeaks's unfiltered information to that of YouTube, where videos get posted every second of every day — too much for parent company Google to review each submission before publishing.
"Yes there is some cost to publishing without vetting," Assange said, "but actually the problems of vetting before publication are so severe that they are a much, much greater problem. And if you have to choose between these two, you would choose publication without vetting."
Following discussion of Assange's ankle monitor and the firing of part of his legal team, the WikiLeaks creator threw a nudge toward Schmidt, saying he "wouldn't mind a leak from Google," though it'd like be a Patriot Act request, he said.
Schmidt admits that he's criticised the acts in the past calling them "non-transparent," but said it would be illegal to leak such documents. "I can certainly pass on your request to our general counsel," he said.
As The Verge pointed out, Google has been moving in that direction. In March, the search giant updated its Transparency Report to include National Security Letters (NSLs) received from the FBI. Then, early this month, the company reportedly filed a "petition to set aside legal process" regarding the government's request for data via secret NSLs.
For more chatter about embarrassing interviews, back-end technology, Lord of the Flies-like governments, and more, check out the full transcript, available on the WikiLeaks website.
Cohen, who co-wrote The New Digital Age with Schmidt and serves as the director of Google Ideas, is a former adviser to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.