Eric Schmidt thinks encryption can get Google into China

January 24, 2014
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Google chairman Eric Schmidt is known for occasionally making somewhat ridiculous statements, and at the World Economic Forum at Davos he had a few interesting things to say about getting into China.

According to Schmidt, Google will be able to use encryption to get into countries like China and North Korea. “It is possible, within the next decade, using encryption, we would be able to open up countries that have strict censorship laws … giving people a voice,” Schmidt said at the conference.

Google moved its search engine out of China and into Hong Kong back in 2010 in an effort to get around censorship and cyberattacks in the country. That doesn’t mean Google is completely ignoring China, though, it just can’t offer all of its services in the country. YouTube is entirely blocked by the Great Firewall, and Gmail only occasionally works.

Schmidt went on to say that “80 to 85% of industrial espionage is thought to be done by China. It’s a real problem. No other country comes close.” Presumably Google’s encryption will eventually be able to shield it from said attacks.

When asked about the NSA and the surveillance it conducts in the U.S. and in other countries Schmidt said Google is working on making its encryption stronger so even governments can’t penetrate it. Schmidt then brought the conversation back to China, saying the strong encryption “creates a problem for governments like China.”

It’s not clear exactly when Google will have this powerful encryption ready, with Schmidt only commenting on “within the next decade.” The encryption will obviously help Google because it can mean access to even more potential users. For the rest of us, it means the data we ensure Google with is more secure. Then we’ll only have to worry about Google having our data. But that’s better than nothing, right?

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