Eric Schmidt on Google Glass, tax and terrorism
IN a wide-ranging radio interview Google’s Executive Chairman claimed wearable technology will reshape etiquette, and that terrorist hackers pose a ‘significant’ threat.
Speaking to Radio 4’s World at One, Mr Schmidt also emphasised Google’s commitment to the wider UK economy in the face of criticism that it avoids taxes and pays staff through Ireland.
“The most important thing to say about our taxes is that we fully comply with the law and we’ll obviously, should the law change, we’ll comply with that as well,” he said.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said that Google’s £6million corporation tax contribution was “not right”, saying she was “fed up” with companies such as Google.
Mr Schmidt argued the focus on Google’s tax bill was a consequence of meagre economic growth, and that an improving economy was the best way for Britain to improve its finances.
He also claimed that the web would drive global economic and security benefits.
“The good news is that it’s very difficult to be a terrorist right now and keep your digital tracks completely secret,” he said. “If you look at what happened with Osama bin Laden, it was ultimately some activities of his driver that allowed him to ultimately be traced and ultimately be killed. It’s very difficult for humans to stay completely off the grid.”
By contrast, however, Mr Schmidt said technology also allowed malevolent forces to exercise greater influence. “The bad news is that you can imagine that the digital network will allow terrorists to, for example, merge with some of the sort of evil financial scammers. You could imagine a terrorist group with a good hacking community with some money, could actually do some significant damage.” He claimed the best way to fight that problem was to strengthen the infrastructure of the internet.
Mr Schmidt also revealed that Google Glass, the wearable computer, is likely to go on sale in approximately one year’s time.
He predicted that such wearable technology could evolve beyond simply glasses, and have profound impacts on human interaction.
“At the moment what you do is you wear it. There are tremendous numbers of applications that can be imagined - augmented reality - where you see what's going on in real-time and then we annotate that. We say, oh that's this building, or this is something that you've already done, or those sorts of things.”
He said there would soon be thousands of Google Glasses in use. “The fact of the matter is that we'll have to develop some new social etiquette. It's obviously not appropriate to wear these glasses in situations where recording is not correct. Companies like Google have a very important responsibility to keep your information safe but you have a responsibility as well which is to understand what you're doing, how you're doing it, and behave appropriately and also keep everything up to date.”
Matt Warman, Telegraph.co.uk