After reading an article on Yahoo! from the Wall Street Journal about Google Dashboard, I was intrigued and had to take a look! I don’t remember hearing about this before, but thought it was important to investigate. The WSJ article begins,
What is Google (GOOG) Dashboard? In short, it is a one-stop shop that links to all the different buckets of your stored data collected by Google Inc.’s services. From your first Gmail account onward, Google has been collecting an amazing amount of information from you, and Dashboard is where you go to find it.
The author, Tom Garra shares, “Strangely enough, the easiest way to find your Google Dashboard is to go to Google.com and search for “Google Dashboard.” Seems simple enough. Garra goes on to state,
Google gives you options to turn the collection off, or delete archived data. And third, access to all this information is password protected. But once you get past the login screen, the amount of information there is staggering.
Today, it isn’t just all your emails and chat logs, but everything searched for, every YouTube video you watched, all the Web pages you visited, calls you made with Google Voice, even a day-by-day history of every location you have looked up on Google Maps.
As I scrolled though the information, I noticed a few inconsistencies. The location history for me was off a bit. Although it had the general areas, some of the addresses shown I can’t recall ever being to or searching for. Some other strange things, it said I only spend an average of three hours a week at work, uh– what? There were photos under a Picasa account I was unaware I had, that I have no recollection of ever posting online. Apparently, it is tied to my food blog? I’m glad I discovered this. Thank goodness for the delete button.
Another article, found on SEOChat.com, stated that, “According to Google, the benefit of having a “central dashboard” is that it gives users insight into the amount of data Google collects about them, while also enabling them to have a central access point to all of the Google services they use.” It is nice that you can log in and edit, delete and clear out the information in one spot. I just wish it weren’t there at all.
Gara is right though, it IS unnerving to see how much information they collect on you. If you are an internet addicted, but not so tech savvy, individual like myself, it can be a bit unsettling. I guess I just didn’t pay enough attention.
My take away from this is simple, I need to pay more attention to what I share, what I search for, and where I check in. Nothing I found was cause for alarm, but I don’t think that much of “me” needs to be out on the web. It is more about my online behavior being tracked which makes me uncomfortable in terms of people stealing and abusing my information. The SEOChat.com post had a point, “After all, it seems completely bizarre to essentially have a service you’re using know more about your Internet activity than you do.” I agree, completely.
A lot of this was probably easy to figure out if I had looked around at my settings, etc., but I hadn’t thought about taking the time to do so. With the ever-evolving world of cyber attacks and hacking, internet and network security is paramount.
Are you familiar with Google Dashboard?
How do you feel about the smorgasbord of your personal info?
–Anna van Tonder
Categories: Internet Security