Google says its mission is "to organize the world's information and
make it universally accessible and useful." But it does not appear to
take kindly to those who use its search engine to organize and publish
information about its own executives.
CNETNews.com, a technology news Web site, said last week that Google
had told it that the company would not answer any questions from
CNET's reporters until July 2006. The move came after CNET published
an article last month that discussed how the Google search engine can
uncover personal information and that raised questions about what
information Google collects about its users.
The article, by Elinor Mills, a CNET staff writer, gave several
examples of information about Google's chief executive, Eric
E. Schmidt, that could be gleaned from the search engine. These
included that his shares in the company were worth $1.5 billion, that
he lived in Atherton, Calif., that he was the host of a
$10,000-a-plate fund-raiser for Al Gore's presidential campaign and
that he was a pilot.
After the article appeared, David Krane, Google's director of public
relations, called CNET editors to complain, said Jai Singh, the editor
in chief of CNETNews.com. "They were unhappy about the fact we used
Schmidt's private information in our story," Mr. Singh said. "Our view
is what we published was all public information, and we actually used
their own product to find it."
He said Mr. Krane called back to say that Google would not speak to any
reporter from CNET for a year.
In an instant-message interview, Mr. Krane said, "You can put us down
for a 'no comment.'
When asked if Google had any objection to the reprinting of the
information about Mr. Schmidt in this article, Mr. Krane replied that
it did not.
Mr. Singh, who has worked in technology news for more than two decades,
said he could not recall a similar situation. "Sometimes a company is
ticked off and won't talk to a reporter for a bit," he said, "but I've
never seen a company not talk to a whole news organization."
by Saul Hansel
Copyright 2005 New York Times and CNET Com.
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