Google Dashboard Gives You a Degree of Control

What does Google know about you and when did they know it? Those are the questions Google claims it's trying to answer with the new Google Dashboard unveiled yesterday.

Google Dashboard: A Triumph of Transparency, Not Privacy
Simply put, the Dashboard gathers up almost every Google service you've signed up for and displays the most basic settings for each on a single page. Here's how The Official Google Blog describes it:

"In an effort to provide you with greater transparency and control over their 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."

[ Even the Great Googley Moogley stumbles from time to time, as Cringley notes in "Gmail Gfails, Internet survives again" | Stay up to date on Robert X. Cringely's musings and observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

Sounds peachy, doesn't it? Finally Google is giving us what we want, control over own data. Saints be praised.

Well, not exactly.

Let's start with the privacy angle. Google puts a "people" icon next to account information that's available to anyone Googling -- er, searching the Net. That's useful info. But if you want to make that stuff private -- or just find out if it's even possible to make it private -- you have to go deep into the settings of each Google app. If you don't already know where to go to change this setting, you may not get there.

For example, I have seven Google Calendars (yes, I am freakish in that way). Google's Dashboard told me one of them was public, but didn't identify which one. A public calendar can reveal scads of sensitive info -- like the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of people you're meeting with, or when you'll be out of town for an extended period. It's one-stop shopping for identity thieves and/or your local cat burglar.

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