Google Executive Chairman Schmidt Warns Europe Against “Foolish” Legislation

Eric Schmidt at Mobile World Congress
Google CEO Eric Schmidt at Mobile World Congress

Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, has warned lawmakers in Europe not to pass “foolish” laws
“that would make the search engine’s services illegal, as many policymakers look to increase regulation of online personal data,” the Financial Times reports. Mr. Schmidt said that such regulation could have “unintended consequences” that might make it impossible for companies like Google to conduct business “legally” in Europe.

Ordinarily, this kind of self-serving nonsense would be dismissed out of hand by lawmakers in Europe (and throughout the developed world). But Mr. Schmidt is not just the Executive Chairman of Google. He is as well a serious candidate for the job of Secretary of Commerce in the Obama Administration. The Europeans know that. They want to wait and see if he gets the job, before they go ahead and pass laws that Mr. Schmidt might find distasteful or “foolish.”

Mr. Schmidt’s status as a (possible) future US Secretary of Commerce gives him tremendous leverage as Google’s Executive Chairman.  That he’s using that leverage publicly is surprising.