We're beginning to understand why Google takes personal privacy so, um, personally. Even the company's own executives, this time Eric Schmidt, can be tripped up by tidbits available in the search engine's own index: a Google cache shows Schmidt was stepping out to a church with a Forbes reporter while he was still, on paper at least, living with his wife.
If you remember, Google exploded after web information about CEO Schmidt was posted up on CNET. "He and his wife Wendy live in the affluent town of Atherton, Calif., where, at a $10,000-a-plate political fund-raiser five years ago, presidential candidate Al Gore and his wife Tipper danced as Elton John belted out "Bennie and the Jets." Schmidt has also roamed the desert at the Burning Man art festival in Nevada, and is an avid amateur pilot."
All pretty innocent, you're thinking. Certainly not so embarrassing as to warrant the embargo on the tech news site that Google's corporate communications department briefly tried to enforce. So he has a wife named Wendy? So they live in Atherton? Doesn't everybody? But maybe Schmidt, who was brought into Google to provide adult supervision of the headstrong founders and reassurance to Wall Street, was more worried what else people might find in Google search results. We set a team of Tibetan slave laborers to work, and they found this: in 2002, an Eric Schmidt joined St. Ignatius in San Francisco with a woman named, not Wendy, but Rita Koselka, which was a byline on Forbes Magazine. Screenshot after the jump.
Frankly, Valleywag couldn't care less whether Schmidt did more than walk Koselka to church. It doesn't appear as though the Forbes reporter interviewed Eric Schmidt, or covered Google in any great detail, so there's no requirement for disclosure. She didn't work at the company, so there's no abuse of power. If Schmidt was going to church with Koselka while still listing the same address as his wife's, that's a matter for the Jesuits. The episode does, however, beg one question: why make such a fuss about CNET's infringement of privacy when they missed the juiciest nugget of all? Dude, you dodged the bullet. The proper reaction is to breathe a sigh of relief, and keep very very still.