Friday, November 6, 2009

Google Privacy Dashboard

Google Dashboard is a new service that shows a summary of the data stored with a Google account (including Google Health). The dashboard lists some of the information associated with the Google services you use: your name, your email address, the number of contacts, the number of conversations in your Gmail inbox, your Google profile, the most recent entries from the web history etc. Google claims it's a long answer to the question: "What does Google know about me?".

Google blog explains:

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.

Google Dashboard is available at

While there are still some concerns about the dashboard, it is certainly an improvement. We have yet to be see how this will address some lingering Google Health security and privacy concerns. But this could give patient health data rights another tool to track who has access to their health information. As Dana Blankenhorn says:

What if you could find out where all your health data is? What if you could learn just which doctors, which hospitals, which insurers have what types of electronic data on you?

Knowing what’s out there, and knowing the rules for releasing that data, you can have full control of your privacy as we move from paper records to electronic records.

John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog still isn’t happy. He’s correct that Google Dashboard "gives users the feeling of control over their privacy without letting them see how Google tracks them all over the place." It seems to be, as Simpson explains, cobbled together from pre-existing interfaces, and doesn’t tell users about all the data on them that Google collects. He feels Google Dashboard is an improvement, but not a solution.

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