Google Dashboard: Will You Need a Warrant for That?

17 Comments

[qi:058] Updated: In yet another attempt to help folks feel that Google (s goog) is a warm and friendly repository for all of their data, the company is offering a chance to see everything it knows about you all in one place called Google Dashboard. Except that much of this was already available before to people who viewed their web history on Google (something I do when trying to grab maps that I look up often). But now the company has put this all in a Dashboard and made it easier for everyone to find it.

The resulting dashboard for me wasn’t anything I didn’t already know. What’s scariest about Google isn’t the fact that it has all my email, YouTube, Maps and web searches, but how it can farm that data to discover more about me (and how long it keeps it). People know they have Gmail accounts — what they don’t know is which Google demographics are sold to advertisers based on that history.

The other thing that hit me, was now anyone from my husband to a police officer could easily get through to this (they would need my password, but if I have it set to stay logged in, they don’t even need that) and see a quick history of anything I’ve done on Google, from individual emails to places I’ve mapped. Update: Google emailed me to say that my experience being able to log back in again without a password was misleading. The service actually logs the user out after an unspecified amount of time, which means someone can’t get in after that period of time without re-entering a password.

I’m not particularly ashamed by any of my information, but others may not want their digital footprints so easily accessed. It used to take a search warrant and your hard drive, or even a subpoena to an ISP, to get access to damning computer data (unless you bring it in for repairs). Now all it takes is an unguarded laptop and Google Dashboard. I suggest that Google at least force you to log in each and every time you want to access it. That way folks would at least have to ask you before getting your data.

 

17 Comments

Ben

MediaCurves.com conducted a study among 295 viewers of a news clip featuring Google’s new Dashboard, which allows users to view information about their previous searches. Results found that that more than one-third of viewers (38%) reported that they will use Google’s search engine less frequently after learning of the feature. Among the viewers who reported that they would use Google less, more than half (52%) reported that they would use Yahoo as their alternative search engine. Furthermore, nearly half of the viewers (48%) stated that they were “not at all comfortable” with search engine companies monitoring and collecting data from their searches.
More in depth results can be seen at:
http://www.mediacurves.com/NationalMediaFocus/J7621-GoogleData/Index.cfm
Thanks,
Ben

Brett Glass

What’s scary is that Google refuses to provide the information it has gathered about users’ browsing via DoubleClick spyware cookies. It knows a lot more about you than that “dashboard” shows! Google also attempts to pinpoint your location…. How does it feel to be stalked by a monopolistic corporation?

I, for one, have already seen way too much. Google needs to be prohibited from maintaining dossiers on every Internet user.

Harsh Agrawal

Atleast I find it good..
I dont remember how many Google services I have signedup and now I have a
admin space from where I can see and control all my stuff associated with Google.

Hillary

This is brilliant move by google again. i had a chance to experience this tool today morning and was amazed. while browsing i had some doubt which bothered me …what if some ones hacks the user access? will it not let my whole information let out ?

TimB

I think having privacy concerns is legitimate. But I think that Google having personal information is more valuable for them to *keep* than to sell to someone else. Besides there are marketing-oriented companies that have been collecting personal information about us for years. With that, and the once-a-year or so data breach from banks, credit card vendors, etc – I think there are a lot more places deserving of our worry than Google.

Logical Extremes

Yes, it should be harder to get to master account data. I did have to re-enter my password, but rarely need to do so to get to individual services once I’m logged in.

I haven’t seen anything jump out at me from the dashboard that wasn’t already available within two clicks of the “My Account” page [https://www.google.com/accounts/ManageAccount] before. But it is a positive sign that Google is making it easier, and hopefully it will be a wake-up call to some people about how many data eggs they have in one basket.

Todd

You don’t have to use google at all. Their services are free, they have close to a monopoly, but there are alternatives for all the google apps, and you can use YouTube without logging in to a user name, or create another one. am I perplexed? How do you get Google to track your use if you don’t use GMail, Google search, Google Maps…??? or just don’t log on to a google user name?

Hugh Isaacs II

“I suggest that Google at least force you to log in each and every time you want to access it. That way folks would at least have to ask you before getting your data.”

Yeah, they do that.

Indrajeet

Stacey, even if you are logged in, you still need to enter your password when you visit Google Dashboard. Same goes for Google Search History Page.

Paul Jacobson

I was going to make the same point. The video Google released about Dashboard does indicate that you still need to log in when you access Dashboard, even if you are logged in to the other services.

Niraj

This is all new from the perspective of those that don’t enable their web history…pretty interesting and it’s nice to see everything summarized by service.

“Now all it takes is an unguarded laptop and Google Dashboard.”

I’d argue if you’re that worried about your data, you’re not going to stay logged in when you leave a computer. If you are always logged in or somebody uses your password to access the page, they’re not going to find anything on the dashboard page that they couldn’t find out by just clicking across Google’s services with the same credentials, since it’s all a single sign-on. It may be surprising because of the fact that it’s all showing up on one page now, but this isn’t really adding any new privacy concerns that the “single account for all services” didn’t already conjure up.

eideard

Spin? We’re supposed to require Google to force us to act with self-concern and care?

I already have enough contempt for nanny-states offline. Don’t need a few more online.

Christian M

Yeah, I looked around. Nothing changed. What I’d hope for is some control over turning off what Google tracks about me. But alas, it doesn’t have that. Nada. Zip. But the spin is that somehow we can control what information about us that Google has. Thanks for seeing past the spin. Mashable ate the spin big time.

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