Saturday, November 7, 2009

What does Google know about you?

Google reminded us again this week of exactly how much it knows about us all, when it unveiled Google Dashboard.

Dashboard is a nifty tool that shows you all the information Google has on you. Well, maybe not all, but some. Or maybe just a sliver.

You can get to Google Dashboard through a link in the “personal settings” section the “my account” page. According to the Google Systems Blog:

The dashboard lists some of the information associated with the Google services you use: your name, your email address, the number of contacts, the number of conversations in your Gmail inbox, your Google profile, the most recent entries from the web history etc.

It's a long answer to the question: "What does Google know about me?".

Yeah, except it really doesn’t answer that question at all, according to many. Google knows a lot more about you than that. Of course they know your email address and Gmail history. But what they’re not telling you is what they know about server logs, cookies and internet-based advertising systems that pull various pieces of data about all of us.

Dashboard is a good step in the direction of transparency and reinforcing a level of trust among Google users. But this service raises more questions than it answers and it will be interesting to see how high Google is willing to raise the curtain on the data they keep.

Incidentally, all these links track back to Google. Think they know that? Probably – but they won’t tell you.

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