My 11/15/09 Missoulian column
I can’t seem to go a month or two without mentioning Google, and no, I don’t own any of their stock.
Why I cover the company is obvious: They are constantly at the front edge of new technologies that hold the market advantage in the many areas of their services.
One of Google’s newest services, Dashboard, appeared on Nov. 5 and shows users the information that Google stores from services such as Gmail, Web search and others.
Dashboard provides controls to manage and delete collected information, and shows links to Google’s privacy policies and FAQs for all services.
Privacy on the Internet is a big deal, and though you may not want to acknowledge it, you should be aware that companies gather lots of information on you and your online habits. Much of your online habits are tracked and the data gathered are used for market research, and it’s not all anonymous.
Information is gathered and stored via your Web browser by the Web sites you visit, and some companies – such as Google – also track e-mail usage and other habits of the users of their services.
The response to Google’s Dashboard was immediate. Critics of Google said the privacy Dashboard is just window dressing for a company with such a far-ranging reach, and users should be able to delete all of Google’s stored information in an account with one click, not wade through settings for multiple services.
Others said at least Google is being somewhat honest about the information they gather, and as a user of such services and the Internet as a whole, we’re responsible for our own privacy.
Google’s Dashboard might have been a response to the growing curiosity and criticism of Google concerning all the information they collect and store. Or it might be more about marketing.
Whatever the motivation, now users of some of Google’s services can – in one place – check on their Web browsing history stored by Google and delete it, as well as their Gmail and Chat data, Blogger Web sites, Contacts and Checkout accounts.
Next week: How to use Google’s Dashboard.