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Google Privacy Your Rights Online

Dashboard Reveals What Google Knows About You 260

CWmike writes "Ever wonder exactly what Google knows about you? Google took a step today to answer that question with the unveiling of Google Dashboard, which is designed to let users see and control the copious amounts of data that Google has stored in its servers about them. 'Over the past 11 years, Google has focused on building innovative products for our users. 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,' Google said in a blog post today. 'In an effort to provide you with greater transparency and control over their own data, we've built the Google Dashboard.' Dashboard is set up so that users can control the personal settings in each Google product that they use. Google said the tool supports more than 20 products, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Web History, YouTube, Picasa, Talk, Reader, Alerts and Google Latitude. Consumer Watchdog said in a statement today that it applauds Google for giving users a single place to go to manage their data. But at the same tine, the group also came down hard on Google, contending that it needs to give users a vehicle for stopping the company from collecting any personal data."
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Dashboard Reveals What Google Knows About You

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  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday November 06, 2009 @02:33AM (#30003412) Journal

    Or less likely - detection of cached images or files.

    Youtube can give video suggestions based on what was watched using the browser even if an account is not created.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pwilli ( 1102893 ) on Friday November 06, 2009 @02:41AM (#30003448)
    But it would be a even worse privacy nightmare to present someone all the data that has been collected associated to a specific cookie and/or IP address if it is not somehow verified, that the person trying to watch that information is actually the same that produced the data (e.g. the one who made the search queries).

    So even if cookie or IP-specific data is stored, showing it to you is a bad idea.
  • Bleedingly obvious? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday November 06, 2009 @02:42AM (#30003454)

    But at the same tine, the group also came down hard on Google, contending that it needs to give users a vehicle for stopping the company from collecting any personal data.

    Don't login. Disable cookies. Any questions?

  • by twostix ( 1277166 ) on Friday November 06, 2009 @02:59AM (#30003508)

    Even so, just looking at what's there, all in one place there's only one word for it faaaaaark.

    It's like a time machine where I can look into my life for the last 3 and half years and see what my state of mind was at any point in time.

    Sometimes it was not pretty, things we forget over time ey?

    Also at what point did the search tracking automatically become opt-in? Last I heard it was only voluntary when did they sneak that change through?

  • by story645 ( 1278106 ) <> on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:02AM (#30003520) Journal

    I learned that a youtube account was registered using my email address, and that I could access the account with my gmail account. So dashboard forced me to change my email address and try to navigate youtube's awful (non-existent) reporting pages. I finally got the right page by sending an email to the wrong people. Otherwise, dashboard showed the existence of things that clicking didn't show up, and the whole thing comes across as a gimmick to get people to sign up for the google services they're not already signed up for.

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:33AM (#30003620) Homepage Journal

    Just curious, has anyone ever presented any evidence that Google uses collected user data for their ad services?

    I mean, you state it as if it was a fact.. it's not.

  • Re:Let's add a link. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by brentonboy ( 1067468 ) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:05AM (#30003716) Homepage Journal

    Wait... we're mad at Google for not keeping track of some personal data on you (language) and using it? I thought we were mad at Google because they *do* do that.

  • by thePig ( 964303 ) <> on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:24AM (#30003760) Journal

    Web History is extremely important to google in many ways. So I do not think they will do anything wrong with it, since it would cause people to stop using cookies.

    As an example usage that I can think of, say, Suppose a person search for the text ’yyy’ in Google Search. Now, of the links he received, he reads the text associated with each link and clicks on 3 or 4 links to open in new tabs/windows. He gets the information he requires from the 3rd link, and so he closes the pages and is done with the search. Now, after a few days, he again requires the same information. He again types the text ’yyy’ in search, and now of all the links, there is a higher probability of the 3rd link being clicked first before the others, because it provided value to him earlier. The more times he searches, the higher the probability of the link being clicked. Now, by using this information, google can consider that the 3rd link in this case provided more value to the user than others. Since this is very powerful data, i.e. it is as good as user telling google that this link has given me more value than others, the page rank of that page can be increased based on this.

    There are so many other scenarios that I can think of - and these are very simple scenarios, with very less implementation issues (other than stopping people trying to game google), using web history. I dont think they will misuse web history in any way because of this.

    Note: I am not sure whether the method I mentioned here is used by google or not. It was just a mechanism I could think of.

  • Re:Window dressing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:32AM (#30003778)

    Having seen what they say they have on me, two thoughts come to mind: Either they are being misleading and this is just the things they feel like telling me, or they are really incompetent because the stuff they say they know about me is pretty limited (and I'm a HEAVY Google user).

    I don't work at Google, but I've interned there several times, and people on SlashDot just don't have a clue when talking about Google's approach to privacy. There's well over 100 teams all doing their own separate stuff, largely unaware of what other people are doing. A few of them harvest a bunch of info from users but most don't bother, and almost nobody harvests data from one application and then passes it onto another application, unless it would be crazy not to. At least for now, Google doesn't track people anywhere near as close as Slashdotters think they do. Since they aren't interested in selling that data to other people and since they don't know how to monetize most kinds of personal data anyway, there's just way too little to gain for what is actually a pretty monumental undertaking.

    Google does what it does because it's run by ordinary people with a lot of ideas and a loose management structure. There is no conspiracy, and at least for now, people on SlashDot would be shocked by how little info about you they have readily available.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday November 06, 2009 @08:36AM (#30004624) Journal

    >>>my Youtube account was sharing my name (username)

    Which one? The good news is that if you're over age 35, the advertisers ignore you. They are only interested in the young malleable people (seriously) who are easily-convinced to try new products. The rest of us are old and set in our ways, and therefore of little interest to advertisers.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner