Google chairman Eric Schmidt and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange secretly met in 2011 and held an extended interview, according to a transcript published on the whistleblowing site. The leak is surprisingly well timed — While conducting research with Jared Cohen for their book The New Digital Age, which is set to be released on Tuesday. Assange was under house arrest in England at the time, Eric had five-hour conversation with him.
If you read the conversation its basically a fascinating look into the minds of the two men, both of whom have had immeasurable impact on issues surrounding technology over recent years. Topics shifted from the blithe, such as Schmidt’s bad experiences with Delta Air Lines and Assange’s endless stream of “crazed” female visitors, to the bigger topics like — Schmidt asking Assange to answer criticism that WikiLeaks has caused more harm than good with its releases, while saying that “we are obviously sympathetic to” his side of the story. Assange later equates WikiLeaks’ flow of permeate information to YouTube, where Google is unable to review every submission made to the site before publishing.
Schmidt is also interested in why WikiLeaks publishes more information on Western democracies than more oppressive regimes, asking “Why are you not getting enormous numbers of anonymous USB drives about the bad documents in African
countries that are run by these evil dictator types?” Assange replies that “we have gotten some decent African stuff,” but makes the point that a lot of these countries don’t use English for government business or “are not as networked.”
“We wouldn’t mind a leak from Google.”
Later, Assange says that he “wouldn’t mind a leak from Google” on all data requests made under the Patriot Act. Schmidt replies that he has criticized the acts in the past, calling them “non-transparent,” but says that any such leak would be illegal.