Google made another move to assuage the concerns of privacy critics Nov. 5, with the Google Dashboard, which provides a summary of the application data associated with Google accounts.
Account summaries appear on the left, with links to manage those accounts (and delete data) listed cleanly on the right. The Dashboard is organized into different sections according to which Google products and services users access when they are signed into their account:
Google Dashboard lets users see an up-to-date total of how many Gmail conversations they have engaged in, e-mails they have sent and received, along with how many attachments they have:
Users may also see how many Docs they have created and share, how many iGoogle gadgets they are using, Google Reader info, Profile info, Tasks and YouTube history.
Google Dashboard also displays Web History, which includes users' online search history for those who have turned it on:
See Dashboard in action here:
What doesn't Google Dashboard show? Anything not associated with a user's Google Account. For example, Google said in a fact sheet:
"For example, if you are not signed in and use Google Search or Google Maps, we will still collect some non-personally identifiable information about your search. That data is aggregated, stored and used to help us to both improve our products and services and maintain the security of our systems. But since none of this data is linked to your account, it is not included in your Google Dashboard. There are also some Google products you may use when you are signed into your Google account that are not currently included in the Google Dashboard. We are working now to add those products in the near future."
From a user experience perspective, this feature gets a big thumbs up. This is a fine feature, particularly for folks like yours truly who use a swath of Google Web services and want a faster way to manage them.
OK, privacy critics: What do you think of this feature? Dashboard is so obviously the byproduct of your table pounding, as Google Software Engineer Alma Whitten, who focuses on privacy and security at the company that is perhaps the most scrutinized for privacy and security, wrote:
"We think of this as a great step towards giving people transparency and control over their data, and we hope this helps shape the way the industry thinks about these issues. It's important for people to be aware of what data they have online and to be able to manage that data--Google Dashboard should help to make this a reality."
When users click the Dashboard link, they will go to a second sign in page, where Google will ask them to verify their password again before letting them see the Dashboard summary.
Dashboard is currently available in 17 languages, including: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Swedish, Russian, Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), and Korean.