The NewsDemon Blog

What Does Google Say About You?

By Steve Schwartz November 17th, 2010

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 a solid amount of criticism because of this, and they’ve alleviated the issue by launching Privacy Dashboard; a one-stop-shop with all the information that Google knows about you and your online habits collected in one place. Something many might have not known about since Google doesn’t really advertise this at all to make easy to find.

To view the information Google’s servers store about you (or at least the amount the company is willing to fess up to storing), sign in to your Google account and scroll through the Google Dashboard. On a single page you’ll find settings for and information about your Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Voice, YouTube, and other Google accounts, including an extensive search history.

The dashboard is a great way to review and update your Google profile, Checkout purchase information, Google Sync settings, Picasa Web albums, and contacts. You can also revoke access to any service you’ve allowed to connect directly to your Google account by clicking the “Websites authorized to access the account” link under Accounts. This opens a window listing all such services along with a link to remove each one, if you wish.

It contains fascinating details like how many contacts you have, stored credit card numbers, recent status messages, most commonly e-mailed individuals, most recent piece of spam received, most recent alerts, newest e-mails, number of conversations logged, number of docs trashed, number of gadgets installed and more. Interestingly, any account activity using their the newsgroup feed, groups.google.com does not seem to be logged yet.

It will also indicate most recent Web search, image search, news search, product search, video search, map search, blog and book search with the corresponding date and time. It also indicates how quickly information becomes irrelevant.

The complete list of Google services that are participating in “Google Dashboard” include:

  • Google Account
  • Alerts
  • Blogger
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Docs
  • Finance
  • Gmail
  • Health
  • iGoogle
  • Latitude
  • Orkut
  • Picasa Web Albums
  • Product Search
  • Profile
  • Reader
  • Talk
  • Tasks
  • Voice
  • Web History
  • YouTube

In some ways, it’s freaky how much honest info people unwittingly hand over to Google, but the company insists that it’s all under user control, and can be removed at any time. Google is considering sending out dentist-like reminders to remind users to check their Dashboard settings every six months (an alert that users would be able to control, of course), but the company is always open to suggestions. A step up from where Google is now would be to put the relevant settings on the Dashboard itself, but we think things are off to a decent start.

NewsDemon.com Newsgroups, in contrast, never keeps any logs or information on members. Completely anonymous, members usage of their USENET newsgroup accounts are completely private and secure.