pri·vate \ˈprī-vət\ a : intended for or restricted to the use of a particular person, group, or class b : belonging to or concerning an individual person, company, or interest
se·cret \ˈsē-krət\ a : kept from knowledge or view : hidden b : marked by the habit of discretion
At first glance, the difference between something secret and something private seems minimal. It seems that if something is secret then by its very nature it has to be private. The opposite also seems true, but seeming and being are quite different. Both words do denote a certain control over information. Private information is something that we generally have control over and belongs to us, it is information we can choose whether we want to disclose or not. Secret information, however, does not necessarily belong to one the one who bears it, but its nondisclosure is dependent on a contract made between parties.
So, how does this apply to the Internet?
One must realize that this contract made with secrets is not ever made with the Internet. When we feed the Internet our information, in a way, it no longer belongs to us and we have no control over it. Because there is no contract made, it renders the idea of secrecy null, and because the only thing shielding our information are weak ‘privacy settings,’ the Internet knows no true privacy. Diving into the web thinking this way will probably save many a lot of grief. Eric Schmidt’s quote, when applied to this idea and the Internet, in some ways is a wise one because it promotes a certain discretion that many lack while on the web. On the other hand, when you apply the same quote to everyday life, it is a naïve sentiment.