Google has switched on a new global feature — a dashboard that allows its account holders to more easily see and control their user data.
The Google Dashboard offers direct links for users to manage the data and settings for each Google product they use and easily see what can be view by others or shared.
Users can access the dashboard from their ‘My Accounts’ page or by visiting www.google.com/dashboard. Clicking on the dashboard link takes you to a second sign in page, where you are asked to verify your password. Once in, users are presented with different sections according to what they use; Gmail users will see Gmail information, for example. One column provides information on the product or service, the other provides provides privacy settings.
“Fundamentally, we wanted to make it easy for users to understand what data is in their account and make it very transparent,” said Google Australia engineering director, Alan Noble.
Google has several data initiatives in the works, including the Data Liberation Front — an engineering team at Google with a goal to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products.
“It’s part of our philosophy of being as open as possible with data,” Noble said. “Users should be able to control the data they store in any of Google's products. We don’t want to be holding your data hostage.”
Noble said the Dashboard feature brings together the capabilities that already exist in Google products and makes it easier for users to access their data and control their privacy options. If you use a Google service when you are not signed into your account, that data will no appear on the dashboard.
Privacy was a key element of the feature, Noble said, and as such, the feature does not consolidate data; it provides an interface.
“We specifically did not wish to store data in one place as its yet another security vulnerability. The information is not retained and users can see the report being generated in front of them.
“We treat privacy very seriously. Google lives and dies by the trust of its users. This is really an example of industry best practice."
A few Google applications have missed the cut: Checkout is missing, as is Google Groups, Analytics and AdSense.
“They are all coming in the near future,” Noble said, adding Google Wave will certainly be on the list when it moves out of limited release.