November 16, 2013 00:00 By Nophakhun Limsamarnphun
Assures Internet users of personal data security if instructions are followed
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, responded to a wide range of questions from the Thai media during a recent visit to Bangkok.
“YouTube [which is owned by Google] has an explosion of viewers worldwide,” he said. “Now we have more than a billion viewers per day. It’s the world’s largest TV network, which is very strong in Thailand.
“Yes, we also see YouTube and Google TV in integration in the future, although YouTube will also remain separate because we want to work well for everybody, including non-Google users. Google TV, which came out recently, will just be another way of experiencing it.”
Regarding the possibility of Google setting up a data centre in Thailand to serve YouTube users, Schmidt said: “I think it’s unlikely unless we needed to because we could create extra copies locally if the shows were very popular and there was a lot of demand.
“Overall, we need about seven or eight big data centres around the world and [in this region] I am not sure if it will be Malaysia, Singapore or Taiwan.
“In the next five years, the world will probably mostly use tablet computers [and smartphones using Android operating systems] on fast networks with lots of interactive ads. Google is positioned as a search and applications company focusing on advertising, infrastructure, Android and Gmail, et cetera, while Google Glass and driverless cars are among our experiments.
“In terms of revenue in Southeast Asia, Thailand is ranked after Singapore and Malaysia.”
Commenting on security and privacy issues, Schmidt said, regarding the US government’s spying programme, “which allegedly has conducted the broad collection of data from Internet users, collecting data from everybody is an example of doing too much”.
“However, your personal data is as secure as we [at Google] know how to make it so. We care about it. [But], for your own personal privacy, you have to do things such as running protection software or changing the password or not clicking ‘yes’ when viruses are being downloaded. You can prevent all these things.
“I told a US newspaper in Hong Kong that we are outraged [by this state spying programme]. Personally, I think Edward Snowden [former Central Intelligence Agency employee and National Security Agency contractor] is a leaker [of state secrets regarding the spying programme].
“Initially, people in America thought he was a traitor, but public opinion has now swung in his favour after people saw that what he leaked concerned terrible government behaviour.
“On one hand, I am happy he did it. On the other, I don’t want this to encourage systematic leaks because that’s dangerous – and the next guys might not be as smart as Snowden and, when he leaks, people may get killed.
“The reason I didn’t call Snowden a whistleblower is because there is a marked difference between leakers and whistleblowers in America.
There is a law protecting whistleblowers, but Snowden worked in the security branch, so there is no whistleblowing capability as he signed his security clearance – a document that promised he wouldn’t do what he is doing.”
“[Meanwhile], today’s technology allows people to communicate more than we have ever done. However, I am worried about deep reading or the immersive reading of books like when you were in school some time ago. It’s been lost. “Now, it’s probably more texting but less deep reading. I don’t know the solution yet.”
The Google chief said he also agreed that the shorter span of attention among younger people due to the advent of information and communication technology is a real issue, as they now prefer shorter-form content.