NEW: Sign Up to View Your Google Account Activity


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Google is under a lot of pressure since it unveiled its new “we’ll-collect-everything-we-have-about-your-use-of-all-our-apps” privacy policy on March 1st. On March 28, 2012, Google announced a new feature for Google Account holders, called “Google Account Activity. If you sign up for this feature, “each month we’ll send you a link to a password-protected report with insights into your signed-in use of Google services,” writes Google product manager, Andreas Tuerk, in his blog post: “Giving you more insight into your Google Account activity” announcing the new feature.

Account-Activity-finalAndreas included a picture of his own monthly Account Activity report, pointing out that it reveals that he was planning a trip to Rome.

As with all new features, Google asks that we provide feedback and promises to incorporate more Google services.

Right now, it appears that you get very high level activity reports of:

– Account Activity (where you logged in from, what type of computer and browser you used)

– Latitude Activity (where you were in the world)

– Gmail Activity (whom you sent email to and from—only the top few reported)

– Web Activity (how many searches you did, what your top queries were, whether they were images or text

– Picasa Web albums

Looking at my own activity report, I was shocked and dismayed that even though I have a corporate/paid Gmail account, Google is tracking to whom I send and receive emails, including all their email addresses (and presumably all their contact info). On the positive front, as a paid Google Apps user with cookies turned off, I didn’t see ANY reporting of my search history.

First Impressions: While I applaud Google for adding transparency to its tracking of users’ account activity, I believe that this approach has (at least) two problems:

1. Monthly reports with high-level info don’t reveal enough. We are all going to want to click through to see more detail—currently, that functionality isn’t supported.

2. The more that gets revealed, the more dismayed we will all be!

Google vs. Facebook in Letting Customers Control Privacy Settings

Facebook offers better (more granular) controls over what is being tracked.

But Facebook makes their settings too complicated and too hard to understand.

Facebook ENCOURAGES the application developers in its network to gather MORE information about our activities and life events.

Google is more mysterious about what is being tracked and what is being done with that information.

Google’s attempt to provide high-level activity reports, after the fact, to show us the tip of the iceberg of what it knows about us is probably going to backfire!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patricia Seybold
With 30 years of experience consulting to customer-centric executives in technology-aggressive businesses across many industries, Patricia Seybold is a visionary thought leader with the unique ability to spot the impact that technology enablement and customer behavior will have on business trends very early. Seybold provides customer-centric executives within Fortune 1 companies with strategic insights, technology guidance, and best practices.


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