Google Guru Calls for "New Social Order" for Online Privacy

The man widely known as one of “The Fathers of the Internet” has spoken out about online privacy. He’s called for new “social rules of order,” so what does that mean for you?

Vinton Cerf, Google’s vice president and chief Internet evangelist, says people should be able to use the Internet without fear of harm.

And to accomplish that, according to Cerf, there may be a need for new “social rules of order if we wish to have more privacy than we do have today.”

The Internet guru kept his vision for a new “social rules of order” at that, offering no further details. But, as followers of social media and technology well know, it is wise to pay attention.

Cerf made the remarks in a wide-ranging speech last week at the COMPTEL PLUS Spring 2011 Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, as first reported by tech newsletter vision2mobile.

Cerf is the Web 2.0 evangelist known as much for his predictions, and accuracy, on how technology will affect future society as for his impressive resume.

He is also a prominent public face for Google where his day job is identifying new technologies to support the online search giant’s latest products.

Cerf went on in his Las Vegas speech to describe other security problems he sees on the Internet today, but placed much of the blame on Internet users themselves who, he says, are often too lax when it comes to protecting themselves online.

“A lot of the problems are not technical. They are behavioral,” Cerf said, citing easy-to-detect passwords created by Internet users as just one example of sloppy user practices that lead to privacy violations.

Those comments, and the idea of a new social order, from Cerf echo the sentiments of his colleague at Google, and former boss, Eric Schmidt, who was very outspoken on the issue of online privacy while leading Google.

“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time … I mean we really have to think about these things as a society,” Schmidt said in a 2010 Wall Street Journal interview in which he also suggested teens could just change their names if they didn’t want their online indiscretions to follow them into adulthood.

But Cerf also looked beyond the user in his remarks to point blame on Web 2.0 technology, and an overall philosophy, that “allows information to be shared very readily,” such as cellphone cameras, easy-to-share videos and posting everything to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

“We are not thoughtful enough about protecting information,” he said. “To make matter worse, it’s so easy to gather information and share it on the Web.”

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