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What Does Google Know About YOU?

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Contributor:
David Silversmith
David Silversmith

In this digital world where online companies seem to know your life history, Google is trying to take the lead on privacy issues with the Google Dashboard. This service allows you to see all that Google knows about you.

There's no two ways about it: if you use a lot of Google services, then Google knows a lot about you. Google has received more than a share of criticism because of this and the Google Dashboard is their way to try and stem concerns.

The Dashboard is a one-stop-shop with all the information that Google knows about you and your online habits collected in one place. Google calls the “scale and level of detail of the Dashboard unprecedented.” The Dashboard includes information on more than 20 Google products and services, including Gmail, YouTube, Reader, Calendar, Docs, Picasa, Web History, Orkut, Talk, Alerts, Latitude and others.

You can find the dashboard at google.com/dashboard, or by loging into your Google account, clicking on Settings, choosing “Google Account Settings” from the dropdown, and then clicking on the link next to “Dashboard”. Below you can see the introductory video for Google Dashboard.

If you pay attention to how you use online services and always adjust your settings - then this Dashboard won't reveal all that much. It really is little more than central clearinghouse for app settings, privacy information and use statistics for the services listed above. However, if you are no obsessive with your online management than you can certainly find some interesting tidbits of info about your various Google account that you may have forgotten. For example, you can see which documents or calendars you've shared with other people.

The challenge for Google is whether their customers will see the Dashboard as a way to increase transparency and make Google users more comfortable with the idea that Google is doing "nothing evil." Or, will this new feature just add fuel to the privacy fanatics by highlighting all the Google knows?  What does the dashboard mean to you - another sign that you have no online privacy or a sign that Google cares about your privacy?

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