Poking at Google's new privacy Dashboard
Google this week unveiled a new feature called Dashboard, intended to give users a way to view -- and in modest ways limit -- the breadth of information the search giant collects about our online lives.
To check out Dashboard, browse to this link, and sign in to your Google account. From there, you can manage which Google Documents you're sharing, edit your Gchat history, or clear out items from your Web search history, among other tasks.
Google said it was launching the service "to provide users with greater transparency and control over their own data." The reaction from privacy experts has been mixed. Ari Schwartz, vice president and chief operating officer at the Center for Democracy & Technology, called the Dashboard offering a good first step, and one that is several steps ahead of what Google's peers in the search businesses currently offer their users.
"Google has said that they want to give the user control, but this is the first time that we've really seen them organize that control over privacy sensitive information," Schwartz said.
But as others have observed, Dashboard doesn't really give users any clearer insights into what the company is doing with all of the data it collects. John Simpson, a consumer advocate with Consumer Watchdog, said if Google really wants people to use Dashboard, the company should make it easier to find, noting that there are few links to the tool from the landing pages of any Google properties. Simpson said Google also should make it easier for users to blow away stored search and activity data across multiple Google properties with a single click.
"Google is maximizing the PR value of this feature in response to critics who have demanded online privacy guarantees," Simpson said in a written statement. "They are letting a little light shine into the black box that is Google, but to claim that this is transparency is absurd."
Whether or not Dashboard's insights go deep enough, the view it offers into how much Web and/or search history information Google stores about users can be startling (the above screen shot shows some of my search history dating back to mid-2007). Interestingly, I found it easier to find Web search history by *not* using the Dashboard. To see what I mean go to Google.com (while signed in), click "Settings," then select "Google Account Settings," then click the "Web history" link. You should now be able to scroll back through your search history.
Now go back to the main personal settings page and click the link next to Dashboard that says "View data stored with this account." You have to then scroll down to the "Web history" section, and click the "Web" link to view the same information through the Dashboard.
November 6, 2009; 1:40 PM ET
Categories: From the Bunker , Safety Tips | Tags: dashboard, google, privacy
Save & Share: Previous: Updates for Adobe's Shockwave, Sun's Java
Next: First iPhone worm targets modified handsets
Posted by: JkR- | November 6, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: skyman375 | November 6, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: gannon_dick | November 6, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bartolo1 | November 7, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bartolo1 | November 7, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: hmmmw | November 7, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jumper1 | November 7, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: a917177 | November 8, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.