FORTUNE -- "How would you feel," Google (GOOG) chairman Eric Schmidt asked in the Guardian last April, "if your neighbour went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their back yard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?"
How would I feel about a drone that could snoop on me? Probably the same way I'd feel about a company that monitored all my online activities -- the e-mail I send and receive, the websites I visit, the places I visit, the products I buy, the YouTubes I watch, etc. etc. -- and sold that information to advertisers.
Google's corporate guidelines on such matters were delineated two years ago by what Schmidt calls "the creepy line."
"The Google policy on a lot of things," he told attendees at the Aspen Institute's Washington Ideas Forum, "is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it."
Creepy privacy issues, however, were not Schmidt's primary objections to Amazon's little delivery choppers.
Drone technology, Schmidt warned, could "democratise the ability to fight war" and fall into the hands of terrorists.
"Self-driving cars, though," deadpans Daring Fireball's John Gruber, who dug up the Guardian piece on Friday. "Those are OK."
Apple (AAPL), meanwhile, is trying to make a virtue -- if not a marketable feature -- out of the difference between its business model and Google's. From the Report on Government Information Requests Apple released last month:
"Our business does not depend on collecting personal data. We have no interest in amassing personal information about our customers. We protect personal conversations by providing end-to-end encryption over iMessage and FaceTime. We do not store location data, Maps searches, or Siri requests in any identifiable form."
Google frontman Eric Schmidt offers iPhone users an early Christmas present.
FORTUNE -- On Monday, Google (GOOG) chairman Eric Schmidt posted a guide for switching to an Android phone from an Apple (AAPL) iPhone. "Many of my iPhone friends are converting to Android," he began, laying out the procedure in 873 words and 17 steps (not counting five verifications).
By Tuesday morning his post had been forwarded 1,856 times and gathered 3,929 MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 26, 2013 8:08 AM ET
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt argues that you still know yourself better than his company does.
FORTUNE -- In a recent interview, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt issued the usual defenses of Google's (GOOG) privacy policies: Basically, Google would like to know more about you so that it can target ads at you more effectively and efficiently (oh and "make you more productive" by improving personalized search results), but you don't have to MOREDan Mitchell, contributor - Aug 7, 2013 2:08 PM ET
Founder control has worked for the search giant. But that doesn't mean it is necessarily a better way.
FORTUNE -- You can't blame Google CEO Larry Page for not being consistent. As Google prepared to go public nine years ago, Page detailed in a letter to prospective investors the many ways in which Google would be unconventional. It would focus on users and on long-term results; it would have an unusual MOREMiguel Helft, senior writer - Jun 19, 2013 6:42 AM ET
Google CEO Larry Page envisions a future in which computers plan your vacations, drive your cars, and anticipate your whims. Audacious? Maybe. But Page's dreams have a way of coming true.
Note: On Jan 3, as Fortune published this article, the Federal Trade Commission ended its investigation of Google's search practices saying it found no evidence that the company manipulated search results in violation of antitrust laws. The European Commission and MOREMiguel Helft, senior writer - Jan 3, 2013 5:00 AM ET
Amazon's potential plans for your TV; Twitter sales trump Facebook's.
Eric Schmidt: "There are now 1.3 million Android device activations per day" [TECHCRUNCH]
Android is growing at a rapid pace. Last December there were 700k devices activated each day. Then, earlier this summer, that number was at 900k. One month later in late July it hit 1M. Now, in early September, there are 1.3M devices activated every single day.
Schmidt later added that there are close to MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Sep 6, 2012 1:11 PM ET
A record of the Android phones and tablets that downloaded a single app over 6 months
FORTUNE -- Suddenly you can see the advantage -- both for developers and users -- of Apple's (AAPL) approach of limiting the number of iOS devices on sale at any time to a handful of iPads, iPhones and iPod touches.
Google (GOOG) executive chairman Eric Schmidt downplays the challenge of knowing ahead of time which Android MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 17, 2012 10:40 AM ET
Fortune's curated selection of tech stories from the weekend. Sign up to get the round-up delivered to you each and every day.
* What happens when tech companies like Google (GOOG) get defensive on privacy issues? Not only do they rub other companies and consumers the wrong way, they serve as reminders of the industry's growing pains. (GigaOm and The New York Times)
* A primer of the Oracle (ORCL) vs. Google trial. (CNET)
* Q&A start-up Quora MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Apr 23, 2012 3:30 AM ET
Larry Page has successfully refocused the company on its core products. What he needs to do now is recapture some of the firm's early magic with bold new products.
By Kevin Kelleher, contributor
FORTUNE – When was the last time Google did something dazzling?
For a company that turns 14 this summer, Google (GOOG) has a history thick with moments when it surprised the web -- many outlined on the company's site, starting in MOREMar 13, 2012 11:06 AM ET
The new deadline in a key Apple vs. HTC patent infringement case is Monday, Dec. 19
There are six more days of nail-biting ahead for Apple (AAPL) and HTC.
A final decision on a closely watched case before the International Trade Commission that was due on Dec. 6 and then postponed to Dec. 14 has been postponed once again to Monday, Dec. 19.
This is a big one.
In the worst case scenario for MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 14, 2011 6:25 AM ET
|GM raising Corvette prices|
|Albertsons to merge with Safeway|
|Boeing reports wing cracks on Dreamliners|
|Everything must go: There's a flood of store closings|
|Bitcoin matters. Ignore the media circus.|