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Google announces an account activity report

Will detail where users were and what they searched for
Thu Mar 29 2012, 10:06

INTERNET SERVICES OUTFIT Google unveiled features today that allow users of its online services to receive reports summarising their web activity and password-protected logins over the preceding month.

It announced, "Today we're introducing Account Activity, a new feature in your Google Account. If you sign up, each month we'll send you a link to a password-protected report with insights into your signed-in use of Google services."

Every month the Account Activity report will collect and summarise data across users' Google accounts. The section of the report that details most recent account activity provides information such as month to month comparisons of email use.

So far so good, but the data collated includes rather more personal and potentially sensitive details such as top search terms and geographical data showing from which countries users have logged in. It also shows how often users' Youtube videos have been viewed.

Google said that data deletion at the data source, that is, in a user's web history, will have "no impact" on issued reports, although the reports themselves can be deleted at any time.

However, Google insisted that the service will actually improve privacy and not have the potential to expose sensitive information. "Knowing more about your own account activity also can help you take steps to protect your Google Account. 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," the company pointed out on its blog.

Google added that to maintain safety and privacy it might sometimes ask users to verify their passwords, even if they are already signed in. It might do this more frequently for services "involving your personal information," it said. µ


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