This post was originally posted on my old website matt-burgess.co.uk and was written during late 2012.
There’s no doubt that when you use one online service for a score of different things, from email to files, that they are going to have a lot of information about you. When I looked at the information Google has stored about me it proved to be eye opening and a little worrying.
Using the company’s Dashboard which is part of every Google account allows you to see what information they have.
According to Google the use of the Dashboard is intended to help transparency, they say:
If you have a Google Account, Google Dashboard helps you answer the question, “What does Google know about me?”. It shows you the information stored in your Google Account and enables you to change your privacy settings for many products from one central location.
So what do they know about me?
In short, a lot. The Dashboard shows they have information about me from every Google product. Here’s a brief breakdown of what is stored from my accounts.
Emails: It shows that stored are 6,213 conversations, as well as my Google Chat history and who I have spoke to through the account.
Documents: 119 documents I own and 36 shared with me.
Contacts: 484 contacts and who I am in touch with most (congratulations Johnston Press, Instapaper and, news Forge).
Chrome synchronisations: Autofill data 886, and 25 stored passwords. These will include multiple bank details, my address and previous addresses, website logins and passwords. Although it says paswords are encrypted.
Web History: This is enabled only for web searches but still shows what my most recent searches have been on the web, news, images, maps, video and more.
Calendar: What my most recent event was, a meeting for the Northampton Table Tennis League.
Tasks: I don’t use this Goggle service but if I did then I’m sure they would know what I have been doing.
Google Mobile App: Dashboard tells me that I have two iOS devices enabled with their app, in case you didn’t know Google it’s my iPhone and iPad.
Reader: They know what 13 RSS feeds my Google Reader account is subscribed to.
Blogger: The old account I had a blog on, which I’ve since deleted, is registered in the details they have as well as the posts on there.
Also shown on the Dashboard are my Google Plus accounts and the +1s I have made, my YouTube account information, Picassa web albums (which I didn’t know existed), maps I have created, printers that are connected over Wi-Fi, AdSense details, Alerts, Analytics details linked to my email, FeedBurner, Fusion tables and more.
The amount I’ve shared with Google is a little scary. They know what I have been doing from my calendar who I have been emailing, personal banking details, addresses, and what I have been searching for on the internet. As well as this they also have server logs and cookies that are not shown on the Dashboard.
This is more than enough to build up a full profile of me, where adverts can be selected and targeted towards me. If police were to request data from Google about me they could let them know everything I have been doing for the last few years. It is rather unnerving we trust a single company with so much information about our personal lives.
I have obviously given all this data to them but looking at what they know about me is enough to make me think about what passwords and details I am saving in the future.
If you want to see what Google know about you sign in to your account here: https://www.google.com/dashboard/