Google has provoked more concerns over privacy this month with the launch of Google Dashboard.
Googe Dashboard is basically an access point for all your Google logins and tools associated with your Google account, as well as a summary of your usage of those tools.
From the official blog post:
“In an effort to provide you with greater transparency and control over their own data, we’ve built the Google Dashboard. Designed to be simple and useful, the Dashboard summarizes data for each product that you use (when signed in to your account) and provides you direct links to control your personal settings.”
From the Dashboard, you can now manage your settings for and view usage of more than 20 products, including:
- Google Alerts
- Blogger accounts
- Google Docs
- iGoogle / Google Gadgets
- Web History
- Product Search
- Google Profile
- Google Reader
Google is planning to add even more products to the Dashboard, such as:
- Google Analytics
- Google AdSense
- Google AdWords
- Audio Ads
- Google Base
- Local Business Center
- Google Page Creator
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Google Subscribed Links
- Google Wave
- Website Optimizer
To find the Google Dashboard, sign in to your Google account, then click on the Settings link from the Google Home Page and choose Google Account Settings from the drop down menu. This will open your Google Accounts page. From there you’ll see a new link under Personal Settings called Dashboard - View Data Stored With This Account. Click on that link and you’ll be prompted to enter your password again before being taken to the Dashboard page.
If you’re already logged into your Google Account, you can access the Dashboard by typing in https://www.google.com/dashboard/. All data stored in your Dashboard is private unless indicated by the shared icon as visible to others.
Having viewed my own Dashboard and usage data, I can understand why privacy experts and bloggers are freaked out. It’s quite disconcerting to see exactly how much Google knows about you and your online history. People have been concerned enough about the search history tracking built into the Google Toolbar, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Dashboard proves that Google is collecting much, much more data about your online activities than you might think. In the wrong hands, this information could easily present opportunities for mass identity theft.
However, one of the major prompts for launching Dashboard was to give people back some element of control over how their data is stored by Google. This is a step towards transparency after all - and as their official blog post states - they are the first major Internet company to offer this degree of control.
So while it’s a little alarming to witness so much of your personal data stored by the Big G, you at least now have the ability to edit and/or permanently remove it. (Or so they say?)