WASHINGTON — An upcoming book about Google claims that Eric Schmidt, who is to step down next week as chief executive, once asked for information about a political donation he made to be removed from the Internet giant's search engine, The New York Times reported Friday.
The Times said Schmidt's request is recounted in "In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives," a book by technology journalist Steven Levy which is to appear in stores on April 12.
The Times said Levy spent three years reporting inside the company to write the book, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.
According to the book, Schmidt's request was rejected as unacceptable by Sheryl Sandberg, who served as Google's vice president of global online sales and operations for six years before leaving in March 2008 for Facebook.
Google announced in January that Schmidt would be replaced as chief executive on April 4 by Google co-founder Larry Page.
Schmidt, who openly endorsed Democratic candidate Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election, will remain with Google as executive chairman.
According to the Times, the book also details Google's troubled relationship with China, saying it was plagued by "missteps from the start."
Google announced in January of last year that it had been targeted by cyber attacks originating in China and that it was no longer willing to self-censor content to comply with government rules.
In 2004, Google founders Page and Sergey Brin were coached on how to behave during a visit to China, according to the book, including receiving advice from former US vice president Al Gore.
After formally entering China in 2006, Google fired its head of government relations there for giving iPods to Chinese officials and charging them to her Google expense account, the Times quoted the book as saying.
Google also reportedly refused to grant money to advertise in China and Page and Brin did not visit the country after Google opened an office there.
In addition, Google blocked software engineers in China from having access to its code base used to invent new products, the book said, because it feared government officials might force them to reveal private information.