Google has been as open as any company its size, but, with the number of services and products it has, it can be hard to know what exactly is shared and with whom and what Google really knows about you. Now, though, Google has introduced the “Dashboard,” a tool to centrally manage the security and privacy settings of many Google services and products.
“Today, with hundreds of millions of people using those products around the world, we are very aware of the trust that you have placed in us, and our responsibility to protect your privacy and data,” Alma Whitten, software engineer, Yariv Adan, product manager, and Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products and User Experience, wrote.
“In an effort to provide you with greater transparency and control over their [sic] own data, we've built the Google Dashboard. Designed to be simple and useful, the Dashboard summarizes data for each product that you use (when signed in to your account) and provides you direct links to control your personal settings,” they added.
Privacy can be a real concern online, despite the fact that most people are very relaxed about it. In fact, many don't really give it a second thought until something bad happens, at which point they blame the sites where it happened. It's true, though, that most sites don't exactly make it easy to view and manage your privacy settings and some of them don't really want you to.
The Google Dashboard is pretty much what you'd expect, it allows you to see what data Google has about you and what you are sharing with the world. A significant number of products is available, starting with the Google Account, obviously, and moving to Blogger, Calendar, Docs, Gmail, Picasa and the one that freaks out most people, Web History. The Dashboard provides direct links to the options that most people will need in this context and it can be a revealing experience. The biggest Google products are available in the Dashboard, the number varies depending on the ones you use, obviously, but there are still a lot of services that haven't been included yet. It's not perfect, but it's way ahead of anything the competition has to offer.