Schmidt: Censorship could vanish within a decade

In light of the surveillance by governments worldwide, Google's Eric Schmidt makes a bold prediction.

Eric Schmidt Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt apparently believes it's possible for censorship as we know it to end within a decade.

Speaking at Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday, Schmidt said that in countries such as China and North Korea -- where the Internet is restricted and free speech can result in severe punishment -- the better use of encryption and tech innovations could eventually lead to connecting everyone and preventing spying, whether the powers that be like it or not. According to Schmidt:

First they try to block you; second, they try to infiltrate you; and third, you win. I really think that's how it works. Because the power is shifted.

I believe there's a real chance that we can eliminate censorship and the possibility of censorship in a decade.

According to Reuters, Schmidt recounted his trip in January to North Korea and acknowledged that his attempts to loosen restrictions on the flow of information into that country failed.

While on the trip, his daughter Sophie summed up the country as "like The Truman Show, at country scale."

In light of the U.S. National Security Agency documents provided by leaker Edward Snowden, surveillance can obviously be found closer to home as well.

Documents released by the former NSA contractor suggested that Google is one of several companies that has had its data tapped by the U.S. agency for intelligence gathering.

The solution to government surveillance will be simply to encrypt everyone, Schmidt said Wednesday. Eventually, he said, censorship and surveillance will be far more difficult to achieve.

"It's pretty clear to me that government surveillance and the way in which governments are doing this will be here to stay in some form, because it's how the citizens will express themselves, and the governments will want to know what they're doing," Schmidt noted. "In that race, I think the censors will lose, and I think that people would be empowered."

Read more of "Will censorship vanish within a decade? Google chairman Eric Schmidt says soon" on ZDNet.

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About the author

    Charlie Osborne writes for ZDNet, SmartPlanet, and CNET. She is based in London and is a freelance journalist, designer, and photographer.

     

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