What Google Dashboard Knows About You

Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    HEIDI COLLINS (HOST): Google and your privacy. The Internet giant collects a lot of information from users, as I’m sure you know. That has some privacy advocates a little bit upset. Now, Google introduced a new tool showing you what it knows about you. Our Josh Levs is here to tell us all about it. Hi, Josh.

    JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi. Interesting one. It’s called Google Dashboard.

    Here’s the basic idea. When people sign in to Google, and that’s what you have to do, you have to sign in in order for them to have this information, Google then tracks a lot of what you do. If you use Gmail, for example, the Google email service, it keeps record. Also, Google owns YouTube, and many people sign into that. Google can then keep records of where you go on YouTube. Google Dashboard shows you what records Google has kept.

    I don’t personally sign into Google. But check this out. At our story here, CNN.com, we carry a story from a reporter with ITN who does sign into Google. Check out what he found.


    BENJAMIN COHEN, REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) like a diary. It charts me booking holidays, finding builders to repair my house and even spraining my ankle. My whole online and offline life is being cataloged, including YouTube searches, so if I had a particular liking of something really quite embarrassing, like the Eurovision Song Contest (ph), there it is all there in black and white.


    LEVS: Haha! He’s being playful. Now, part of what Dashboard does is let you erase some things. Here’s a video from Google’s official blog.


    VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For example, if you click on manage chat history, you can go directly to our personal settings page for chat history and change the option from save chat history to never save chat history. All from one central location.


    LEVS: So, Dashboard lets you get rid of some information on there. Google says part of the goal here is to stop the theory about what Google knows and doesn’t know about you, to provide transparency. But there are some privacy advocates who say this is still this is not enough. For example, one group called Consumer Watchdog put out this statement saying, "If Google really wanted to give users control of their privacy, it would give consumers the ability to be anonymous from the company and advertisers in crucial areas like search data and online behavior." And you can see the statement right there.

    Heidi, that gets at some of these issues surrounding Google and privacy. They offer, for example, interest-based ads. You can see ads based on what you search. Google says Dashboard is its latest effort to give people control over what information gets stored, and you can read more.

    Let’s show it from the graphic and end on that. We have a lot more for you. You can weigh in. CNN.com/josh. Also Facebook and Twitter. Josh LevsCNN, and we’re curious to hear from you if this is working for you.

    COLLINS: OK. Josh, we sure do appreciate that. I’m never logging on to anything ever again.

    LEVS: Oh, boy!

    COLLINS: All right, Josh. Thanks so much.

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