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Google's Eric Schmidt talks WikiLeaks with founder Julian Assange

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The transcript details a five-hour conversation they had on July 23, 2011. They covered a wide range of topics, including Bitcoin, the Patriot Act, and the influence that WikiLeaks may have had on the Arab spring and the Kenyan election of 2007. 

“I am certain we influenced it [the Arab spring],” he said.”And that’s...a great moment. Something I am certain about is that we changed the outcome of the Kenyan election in 2007. There has been many ministers whose scalps were taken and people being forced to resign and so on. Those are concrete and clear actions and one might argue that they are positive if you didn't like the guy, and you would argue that they were negative if you did like the guy, so I don't really want to mention those ones.”

Roy Gutterman, who runs the Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University, says the book would not be the same without the insight Assange gives. The Internet activist, he says, is a major player as someone challenging government officials on classified information and national security.

“He sees the Internet as a great equalizing force to give voices to the voiceless and to challenge governments and regimes,” says Mr. Gutterman, an associate professor at the Newhouse School of Public Communications. “In some ways he's right, in some ways he's a little off. The power of being able to command a global audience to disseminate information in a variety of formats is really undeniable.”

Assange debated the power of disseminating that information with Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Cohen and its morality. At one point, he asks that Google leak information.

“We wouldn't mind a leak from Google, which would be, I think probably all the Patriot Act requests,” Assange says.

One of the biggest concerns, however, was the US government’s requests for data on users. Officials have used the Patriot Act up to 999 times a year to ask Google to provide information, where they’re listed as National Security letters, as Quartz notes. Because those letters are meant to be secret, Google does not list specific numbers. 

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