Firefox users are being urged to install the browser extension that adds the Bing search engine to Firefox. Mozilla director of community development, Asa Dotzler, made the recommendation in a blog post in response to Google CEO Eric Schmidt's recent comments on privacy.
It was the quote heard around the world, and it represents more than just a smoking gun for those who have already been cautious (sometimes bordering on paranoid) about just how much information Google knows about users and what it might do with that information.
Appearing on CNBC, Schmidt was asked whether or not users should inherently trust Google. Schmidt's response was “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.”
Schmidt is certainly not the first person to use the “those who aren't breaking the law have no need for privacy” defense, but coming from the CEO of Google–one of the top targets for privacy concerns–it was enough to cause Dotzler to recommend that Firefox users abandon Google in favor of Microsoft's Bing.
Google has been challenged regarding its sometimes apparent disregard for privacy on a number of occasions. Many countries have taken issue with Google's efforts to photograph neighborhoods for its Street View mapping. Most recently, Google's expansion of personalized search results has upset privacy advocates.
Recommending a switch to Bing is a bold move for Mozilla, which is engaged in a multi-year arrangement with Google that extends through 2011. The majority of Mozilla revenue is derived from Google as a function of the deal, which calls for Mozilla to set Google as the default search engine in its Firefox Web browser software.