The Google Chairman is one angry dude.
Eric Schmidt expressed clear outrage during our interview here in Hong Kong about the revelation that the National Security Agency had spied on the company’s data links.
"I was shocked that the NSA would do this,” Schmidt tells me. “Perhaps it’s a violation of law, but it is certainly a violation of mission.”
The report surfaced last week along with the infamous slide now seen around the world. NSA staff drew a smiley face to show the point where the agency intercepted the transfer of data between Google data centers. Google is responding by fortifying its defenses.
“Now Google's technologies are heavily encrypted internally and heavily fortified, and we announced that we are making it even more so. We're using encryption to make it very difficult for the U.S. government or the Chinese government to get your information.”
The Google chairman also expressed anger at previous reports of alleged extensive surveillance by the NSA.
“It’s just terrible policy,” Schmidt says. “In the United States, it appears as though, according to the documents, that the National Security Agency tracked everyone’s phone calls, in order to identify 300 suspects.”
“That seems like overreach.”
As governments from Washington to Beijing show their willingness to track our data - how much privacy will we have left?
"A lot will depend on how we rein in our governments,” Schmidt tells me.
“On the democratic side we have a voice. We can tell them that we don't think it's appropriate for them to be spying on our citizens."
And despite the rise of government surveillance, Eric Schmidt remains firmly optimistic about our digital future.
"We never had a tool as powerful as the personal computer or a cell phone connected to a supercomputer given to every citizen in the world,” he says. “That shift in power is enabling but also frightening to governments. That's the balance.”
“I think the citizens win. I think the governments will figure out they can't push the citizens around the way they have in other regimes in other media."