It was reassuring to see so many blank spots in Google's view of me, especially after the controversy over its recent consolidation of privacy policies.
But this monthly statement isn't a complete accounting. Beyond sign-in details, Gmail, Web history, YouTube, Picasa and Latitude, a Google representative said the report only factors in security-settings changes. (If you see any you didn't make yourself, change your password immediately). The company plans to add unspecified services in the coming months.
I suspect that adding Google Maps queries, which often pinpoint your home and maybe also your shopping habits, would change that picture the most. Google Docs usage and the volume of synced calendar and contacts entries might also provide a few eye-opening moments. To see all of those relationships, you need to inspect your Google Dashboard, which offers less detail about recent usage but lists every sort of authorized access.
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This will be a feature worth watching. On one level, Google's Activity Reports should appeal to digital narcissists everywhere: Alongside data like Foursquare check-in histories, blogging page-view stats, and other personal metrics you can gather with tools such as the new ThinkUp web service, they constitute yet another way your online identity can keep score.
But by quantifying just what Google has seen you do in the past month - a statistical perspective not as easy to find at Facebook, even after its recent redesigns - these statements may also help Google users decide if they shouldn't cover up a little more when they log on.
Credit: Rob Pegoraro / Discovery