New Google Service Offers Monthly Report Of User Activity
For the new feature, dubbed simply Account Activity, participating users receive an e-mail link to a secure, password-protected webpage where their personal report is displayed.
Opening the official blog-post announcement, Google product manager Andreas Tuerk framed the new service in the context of the company´s overall mission.
“Every day we aim to make technology so simple and intuitive that you stop thinking about it — we want Google to work so well, it just blends into your life. But sometimes it´s helpful to step back and take stock of what you´re doing online,” wrote Tuerk.“¨“¨He went on to offer a concrete personal example of how the new feature can help users keep an eye on their own web activity.
“For example, my most recent Account Activity report told me that I sent 5 percent more email than the previous month and received 3 percent more. An Italian hotel was my top Gmail contact for the month. I conducted 12 percent more Google searches than in the previous month, and my top queries reflected the vacation I was planning: [rome] and [hotel].”
In creating Account Activity, the company notes that its main goal was to further empower users by offering them a means to take control of their own web security. Essentially, now Google won´t be the only one able to keep tabs on your web activity and how your accounts are being used, meaning that users can now take a more proactive role in managing and protecting their accounts.
“Knowing more about your own account activity also can help you take steps to protect your Google Account,” wrote Tuerk.
The monthly reports provide users with a variety of information on their Internet activity. These include not just the number of Google searches made each month but also the most popular search topics, the number of e-mails sent and received (presumably from Google accounts) as well as the locations where Google accounts have been accessed and the devices used to access them.
This last feature, the company believes, will help users quickly notice if any of their accounts are being accessed by unauthorized parties and take additional security measures if necessary.
“For example, if you notice sign-ins from countries where you haven´t been or devices you´ve never owned, you can change your password immediately and sign up for the extra level of security provided by 2-step verification.”
While Account Activity is a free service, it is not automatic and users will need to sign up to receive the monthly summaries.
Not everyone, however, is impressed with the new feature. Tech blogger Christopher Mimms has called it a “sham.”
“In (Google´s) attempt to not overwhelm you with the truly scary amount of data they have compiled about you, they boiled it all down into a super accessible milquetoast of a dashboard that tells you absolutely nothing.”
Along with a growing host of web privacy activists, Mimms thinks that users of Google´s services should be able to erase essentially any record of their use of its products whenever they want.“¨“¨“The truth is that unless you´re vaguely creeped out by the results (of the new service), Google is not telling you all that it knows about you,” writes Mimms.
For its part, the California-based web colossus has insisted that its new privacy terms greatly simplify and streamline the user´s web experience. Instead of being faced with the herculean task of familiarizing themselves with over 60 individual privacy policies, users now only need to acquaint themselves with one policy which is valid across all of Google´s services.
As Network World´s Brad Reed noted: “If you´re confused about what Google does and doesn´t know about your online activity, take heart: Google is letting you in on the secret.”
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