CNET story too close to home for Google

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - Google's PR team has "blackballed" tech media firm CNET after the company's website ran a story divulging personal information about Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

The article, which ran on CNET's news site, News.com, explored the ease of finding personal information on the internet. CNET used Google to search for information about Schmidt, discovering his estimated financial worth and a link to his home address.

The search giant subsequently announced it would not cooperate with CNET reporters through July 2006.

Google has declined requests to discuss the ban. Jai Singh, SVP and editor-in-chief of News. com, said he did not believe Google's decision would impact CNET's ability to report on the company.

The San Jose Mercury News called the move a "public relations black eye" for Google. Wired, in addition to calling Google's PR team "tone-deaf," was one of several outlets saying Google was hypocritical.

"Google is all for Googling, as long as you don't Google a Google executive," wrote Wired.

"I think [CNET's] story was a fair story," said Jim Finn, VP of corporate communications at IBM, who had blacklisted the Mercury News while he was VP of global corporate communications at Oracle.

"We have rights, too," he said, "but the relationship with the media works best when it's a two-way street. We need to work together. I'd really hesitate before going nuclear."

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