News Analysis: Google again finds itself in a no-win situation, this time with Google Dashboard. Some claim Google collects too much data in Dashboard, and others say it doesn't provide enough. Dashboard summarizes the data from the Web services associated with a user's account. It will list how many Gmail conversations we have going, how many Google Docs we have, Google Calendar appointments and even Web history if we've enabled it. But it does not include detail Google collects on us from its server logs, cookies and ads.
With Google Dashboard, Google again finds itself in a
no-win situation. In a utopian world, the search engine would be roundly
praised for providing a window into the data users generate from using Google
Yet whenever Google puts a foot forward, advertising its action using
keywords like "transparency," "openness" and
"privacy," the company opens itself to a hailstorm of criticism. And
that's what has happened here, with some claiming Google collects too much data
in Dashboard and others saying it doesn't provide enough.
data from the Web services associated with a
user's Google Account. Dashboard, which can be found here
or under the
Personal Setting section under My Account, will list how many Gmail
conversations we have going, how many Google Docs we have, Google Calendar
appointments and even Web history if we've enabled it.
This does not include information Google collects on us from its server
logs, cookies and ads-and this is key; more on this later in the report.
Some bloggers complained that this is too much data put on one palette, made
easily accessible to users or even legal eagles. GigaOm's Stacy Higginbotham noted
"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."
However, it's not as easy or accessible as some think. You need to be logged
into your Google Account to access Dashboard, but when you click the Dashboard
link from your account page, Google takes you to a second sign-in page, where
it will ask you to enter your password again to ensure extra protection.
This is a nice gesture, but if someone knows your password, you're in a bind
and that user will access your data. Perhaps Google can add a security question
for the third step, but of course that would be walking the fine line between
security and simplicity.