Last week, Google rolled out a new service called Google Dashboard. The service was designed to help users better understand what information Google collects about them:
The dashboard is a welcomed service for two reasons:
It is an initial privacy control mechanism. While Google remains heavily dependent on search, Google continues to expand their services offering. In reviewing these services, it has become clear that Google controls every medium of communication with the exception of fax and snail mail:
NOTE: Google has Gmail (Email), Google Chrome (Web Browser), Google Wave and Google Talk (Chat/IM/Video), and Android and Google Voice (Mobile, Phone).
If Google decides to continue their acquisition streak, Google may find themselves in the eyesight of privacy advocates that are worried about Google owning too much information about you. If Google sits on the sidelines, Google may be forced eventually to disclose personal information to their end users or to limit the information that they can collect. The Google Dashboard gives Google leverage over privacy advocates in that they give you control over your information.
It prepares users for Google Chrome OS. A few months ago, Google announced the development of an OS for netbooks (source). Additionally, Google is known for their exceptional user experience. It seems that the Google Dashboard makes an initial attempt at consolidating account preferences into a single view, a feature that one would expect when Google releases their OS.
While the Google Dashboard is by no means perfect, it is a fine start.