Google Dashboard Is a Dud

The company launches "unprecedented" new privacy-controls, to yawns from the blogosphere

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New Google products always cause a press commotion, but the prevailing reaction to the release of Google Dashboard on Thursday was an underwhelming: "Yeah, So?" Dashboard is promoted on the official Google blog as a way of giving users "greater transparency and control over their data." It collects and summarizes all the information the company stores about a user's activity within the Google empire--Search, Gmail, Chat, etc. Users can then select precisely how much information they want to be sharing with Google and the wider online community. Many bloggers took it as an encouraging sign that Google was listening to customers' privacy concerns, but concluded Dashboard was nothing new.

  • Boring, John Paczkowski sighs at All Things D. Sure, by showing users the information it has stored about their online habits, Google may ease some fears that it knows too much. Otherwise, Dashboard isn't much to talk about:  "Essentially, all Dashboard does is consolidate the admin pages of the services associated with a user’s account in a single place. Convenient, yes. But does it tell us anything we didn’t already know? Or, more importantly, how Google is using that information? No."
  • Backfire  Mashable's Stan Schroeder agrees that Dashboard is unimpressive. But he goes even further, arguing that contrary to its stated goals, the product may actually unnerve people about their privacy even more than before: "Sure, it’s nice to have all these in one place, should you ever want to review all your private information stored at Google at once, but there’s nothing really new about this list; you could even call it a privacy-related compilation. Unfortunately, it’s also an unpleasant reminder of just how much data you’re giving out to Google (and other online services)."
  • 'This Is It?' At ReadWriteWeb, Frederic Lardinois suggests offering users more valuable information, but is skeptical Google give away profitable data: "As the LA Times points out, Google's 'data storage revolves around precisely how and what the company does to analyze and profit from user information.' This would be interesting information to have, though it's also the data that Google is the least likely to share. Google also doesn't share information it collects about you through cookies, its server logs or its advertising programs."
  • Show Us the Money! ComputerWorld's Barbara Krasnoff also believes Dashboard could be better if incorporated information related to its lucrative ad-business, which employs targeted marketing: "One section that I think a lot of Google users aren't aware of, and that could be made more accessible, is Google's Ads Preferences page, which allows you to let Google know what types of ads you'd be interested in getting, what types you'd rather not get, what ads Google has associated with your account -- and whether you want to opt out of interest-based advertising altogether. It's great that Google gives you that ability -- but it would be even greater if the company included that feature in its shiny new Dashboard."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.