Google's latest adventure, Dashboard, lays out all the various Google services an individual user works with, tries on, or forgets about. It focuses on products like Gmail, YouTube, and others that are used while signed into a Google Account and any data that is generated during that time. This data includes Web searches, IP address, browser type and language, cookies and more. Each service includes data such as the number of Gmail conversations in the Inbox, or how many gadgets are installed on iGoogle, and links for basic management.
Dashboard is incredibly helpful because it lays out very clearly all the footprints that Internet users leave as they do their daily Web activities. Because of this transparency, it makes it easier to see where privacy is being undermined. Similar to Facebook privacy settings, the various Google applications have their own settings that can be adjusted to taste. This job is managed by Dashboard, in the sense that it makes it easier for an individual to see just what private bits of user profiles are hanging around.
At first, the reactions to Dashboard that it may cause additional security issues seems baseless. After all, it is the ignorant user that is putting all this information in Google's hands in the first place. But as PC World points out, Dashboard makes it easier for identity thieves and other data attackers to find personal information - it is already collected in one place.
While it is true that Dashboard makes account infiltration into a more serious issue than ever, it does put control back into the hands of the user. The majority of the users of Google's products and services will not make the best use of this new data indexer, and that will make account attacks more dangerous. But there are some of us who will use Dashboard in the way it is ideally for - imparting transparency, enabling choice and encouraging control.