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Google Dashboard is a Good Step for Privacy

Better privacy controls? Yes please!

For as long as Google has existed, it has been and continues to be my favorite search engine by far. I like the company, their services, and just about everything about them except for one thing: abysmal privacy policies.

Though Google has legitimate use for storing search records to see how long it takes someone to find what they're looking for, there's no need to store an IP address along with the search records. Any unique identifier would work. There's certainly no reason why Google should store your records for 18 months, let alone 18 minutes.

To be fair, sometimes they get things right like when they strongly resisted government invasion of search records, but the information is there and that creates a risk.

While that issue is still in the air, Google recently made another step in the right direction with their Google Dashboard feature. When logged into any Google service, you can go to http://www.google.com/dashboard to see a consolidated listing of everything Google knows about you. Documents, chat records, search history, etc.

The service gives you single-page access to the privacy controls for every service that you're using with Google. This not only makes what they have on you more transparent, but easier to manage. Granted, they have more work to do in giving you control over what's stored and what isn't, you can at least delete some of the data. For instance, if you've made searches in the past that list your home address or medical information and you don't want Google to have that on file, you can delete it.

Of course, that doesn't get rid of every copy that exists, but it at leasts takes it out of their current records and makes it less likely to get swooped up by government snooping or any future data breaches that Google might suffer. All in all, a very good step in the right direction so make sure to check it out if you use Google services.

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2 Comments to “Google Dashboard is a Good Step for Privacy”

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Dashboard is an interesting summary of all my data on Google, except for search history. Are they really logging data by IP address? If so, this should be available. Also, is there a geek recommendation for using search and maintaining some level of privacy? A search engine is no different than going into your neighborhood general store, except that it has a much better memory of all your transactions. Often those transactions are very personal in nature as evidenced by the AOL Google search results publishing fiasco a few years back. The difficult situation is that search provides a valuable service since we all want to gain some knowledge and search provides it so conveniently 24 hours a day.

    Certainly. Split searches among different engines now and then. Especially when you feel the combination would identify you. You can also use a proxy service although that’s not as simple or cheap. Another option is to search more carefully. Why put in your address if your zip code will do?

    Lastly, the theory is that Google is one of the best to use now since you can actually clear out your search records. The only question is whether Google actually gets rid of them or not. In my case, I’ve never been able to actually SEE my search results for some reason so I can’t speak from experience.

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