- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google Inc. is refusing to speak with reporters at CNET’s online news site after it ran a story that used Google’s chief executive to illustrate how easily the company’s search engine finds personal information.

Google told News.com, the online technology news service of CNET Networks Inc., last week that it would not speak to any of its reporters for a year, News.com’s editor said.

Google was angered by a story last month that focused on potential threats the search engine leader’s product poses to personal privacy, said Jai Singh, the News.com editor in chief.

To demonstrate the point, writer Elinor Mills googled CEO Eric E. Schmidt.

In her story, Miss Mills included a link to Mr. Schmidt’s home address and his net worth of $1.5 billion, and noted that he has attended the Burning Man art festival and is an amateur pilot. Miss Mills said she spent 30 minutes on Google to obtain the information.

“We didn’t go out and break into any databases to get this information,” Mr. Singh said. “This is all publicly available information.”

A Google spokesman declined to speak with the Associated Press about the story.

The crux of Miss Mills’ story was about the vast amounts of information Google collects that is unavailable to the public. For example, Google software scans user e-mails to learn what kind of advertising might appeal to the user.

Miss Mills wrote in her story that “hackers, zealous government investigators, or even a Google insider who falls short of the company’s ethics standards could abuse that information.”

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