Anyone who has used the popular search engine Google knows how easy it is to collect information on virtually any subject, but the company is apparently not happy about being “Googled” by a reporter getting information about a company executive.

The search engine is now giving the silent treatment to CNET News, after an article featured facts about company CEO Eric Schmidt, facts that were gleaned from using Google.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt

It started last month when CNET News reporter Elinor Mills used the search engine to find out data about Schmidt, bits of which included:

  • Schmidt’s shares in Google were worth $1.5 billion;

  • he’s a resident of Atherton, Calif.;

  • he hosted a $10,000-a-plate fund-raiser for Al Gore’s presidential campaign;

  • and that he was a pilot.

    According to the New York Times, David Krane, Google’s director of public relations, called CNET editors to complain once it published the facts.

    “They were unhappy about the fact we used Schmidt’s private information in our story,” Jai Singh, editor in chief of, told the Times. “Our view is what we published was all public information, and we actually used their own product to find it.”

    Singh said Krane called back to say Google would not speak to any reporter from CNET for an entire year.

    “You can put us down for a ‘no comment,'” he stated in an instant-message interview.

    “Sometimes a company is ticked off and won’t talk to a reporter for a bit,” Singh said, “but I’ve never seen a company not talk to a whole news organization.”

    The incident is echoing throughout the tech world on the Internet.

    Jason Stamper, editor of Computer Business Review, notes, “Blackballing journalists is not big and is not clever. I hope I don’t have to explain why a free technology press is important to such a forward-looking company as Google. But perhaps given the fact that it was Playboy that Google granted its exclusive pre-IPO interview to, they do seem to have a slightly odd view of the people they will, and will not talk to.”

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