Google chairman describes the Internet in North Korea

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By Larry Banks

Today, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said it’s not worth the risk to sell business software to North Korea.

His remarks come as part of an onstage interview that he gave to Box CEO Aaron Levie at the BoxDev conference, in which the new cloud storage company is addressing more than 2,000 developers.

Google says not worth the risk selling to North Korea

Schmidt was discussing the impact of a free and open Internet, and the contrasts between the Internet in the US and elsewhere.

Schmidt said North Korea was a terrible scenario, in which the regime has blocked itself off from the regular Internet, as a kind of “Internet”, in which you can access state-approved content and nothing else.

Google Eric Schmidt UnhappySchmidt says that even for undergraduate students, they can only use the Internet in pairs, and that it keeps citizens in the dark, cut off from the rest of the world.

“New kinds of proxy and firewall technologies might be able to break that, but it’s not true today”, Schmidt says.

At that point, Levie became animated and asked if cloud storage services could be sold by Box in North Korea.

“It’s highly illegal to sell to North Korea…Aaron”, Schmidt replied.

When Levie questioned what might happen, Schmidt said he would go to jail.

“North Korean jail, or like, Palo Alto jail?”, Levie responded.

Levie asked if Schmidt was sure, and he replied that it’s on the list of countries where it’s totally illegal for American companies to sell to.

“There are four countries on that list, you need to know who they are”, Schmidt said.

This was amid the backdrop of how Google prioritises freedom of information. Schmidt says that he believes a search warrant is necessary to obtain information, and that electronic surveillance is a real problem.

Meanwhile, Schmidt says that Google is closing its ‘backdoors’, much to the dismay of intelligence agencies who always said they were never spying on us in the first place.

“Now all the people who are snooping are complaining”, he says.

Schmidt however remains fairly optimistic. There are changes to Net Neutrality and the general wave of public concern, plus the First Amendment, so it’s not quite as bad as it could be yet.

“The good news is that North Korea is much worse”, said Schmidt.

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