I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines -- including Google -- do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.
I think Google's hiding behind the Patriot Act here. A search engine company wants to hang on to data to analyze it for trends and develop predictive models that it can turn into revenue. There's a business need for the data that the company would find a way to justify, legislation or no.
The second sentence there, the one that Eric Schmidt is taking so much flak over, doesn't disturb me as much as it confuses me. Is he saying that we all need to simply drop the acts and quit keeping secrets from each other? Be more real? Let it all hang out, man? Is he using a provocative statement to check the internet community's pulse? Is it a "tell"? Is he just winding up the haters?
If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.
How do we keep the tyranny implied in that statement out of the "GeoWeb"?