Eric Schmidt has expressed his hope that new privacy laws will not be 'so foolish' that they stop Google from operating in those countries that are adopting them.

With France debating what data should be available to them, and governments increasingly nervous about their citizens' private information being given to and used by companies, Google is at the forefront of the debate around privacy.

Speaking at Google's Big Tent event, Schmidt, former CEO and now executive chairman at the company, expressed his hopes that Google would not be forced into drastic action, as they were when they moved their China operation to Hong Kong.

"Hopefully laws won't be so foolish as to not let Google operate in those countries," said Schmidt.

"Google has an incentive to do right thing by the end user because the end user can use something else. We have a very well funded competitor known as Microsoft."

Honest mistakes

Schmidt believes that governments are putting together 'well meaning' legislation to try to protect their citizens from technology and the internet, but are not aware of the repercussions.

That chimes with the much-maligned and hugely controversial Digital Economy Act which was rushed through in the wash-up in parliament and is now being looked at again by Ofcom.

"Well meaning people in government write something broad but you have to be careful when you do these regulations because they have unintended consequences," said Schmidt

"We would prefer to try to use best practices within the industry instead of regulations. If there is legislation it should be based on the best practices of the leading companies."