Google's Dashboard Is a Window Onto Your Google Soul

"Have you ever wondered what data is stored with your Google Account?" Google asks, and privacy advocates and techy-minded people will quickly answer "YES!" Now Google's Dashboard lets you see, but not delete, what's stored about you in Google's vault of mysteries.

google dashboardThe news will please those who are concerned that Google's business involves it storing large (and possibly vast, deep, and highly personal) datafiles on how you interact with its search engine, mail and other services. That's probably why Google chose to reveal Dashboard at an international data-protection conference this week in Spain. Google notes that "with hundreds of millions of people using those products around the world, we are very aware of the trust that you have placed in us, and our responsibility to protect your privacy and data," which sounds sweet and fluffy, but you can assume that there's a degree of lawsuit-avoidance mixed in with this plan.

Dashboard summarizes the data on each Google product you use, all in one place for convenience, and also links directly to privacy settings so you can influence—though only for those systems that require you to use a Google login. This is stuff like the number of Gmail conversations you've had, or the gadgets you've installed in iGoogle, documents in Docs, your YouTube profile and favorites and so on.

Of course, Google will still collect reams of data on your habits no matter what your privacy settings are (targeted advertising is, after all, how Google makes its millions), and will continue to collect data on Google searches you do despite this system not requiring a login. So Dashboard is a step forward, perhaps borrowing some of the concept of glasnost that the Obama administration has been beginning to spread around, but it's merely a peephole into the digital version of yourself that Google's building up—it doesn't offer you much in the way of genuine control.

[Via Googleblog]

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  • Kit Eaton

    @OMG. Oh my goodness. Does your bank know your medical history, your eye prescription and who you're emailing? Nope-- but Google might know all of that. Personally, I'm a net denizen so that's pretty much a no-worry situation as far as I know. But some peeps really get a bee in their bonnet about it, worrying about spying, step-by-step loss of personal liberties and hacking risks. I can see you're not one of those types... though not bold enough to use yr actual name.

  • Omg Imsoscared

    The personal information that Google knows is nothing. I just found out what kind of information THEY have at the hospital I go to. THEY know about my past medical history, including that little case of STD I had 11 years ago. THEY know I have a scar on my abdomen, and one doctor even said he knew I didn't have an appendix! OMG! How did he know?!?! I don't even know him!
    And that's just the tip of the iceberg. My bank knows how much money I have! And who I've been writing checks to! I'm afraid my optician might know what I was looking at the night before I had that eye exam, oh no! The post office lady knew I got that package from My hairstylist knows I did that little twerp from accounts. My boss knows where I worked before this job (eeeek!).
    But the worst of it? None of these people will delete their knowledge about me!! OMG! THEY are so controlling! THEY know too much. I mean, MY GOD! WHO TOLD THEM!?!?!?!?
    What an incredibly stupid piece of writing. BTW I was laughing with disbelief as I registered with fastco and saw all the personal information that you ask for. What a hipocritical load!