Google released a tool today that gives users detailed information on their own use of the company’s products – an impressive and accessible information-gathering feat, but one with a potential backlash if it raises consumer awareness about the amount and detail of information that the search giant is collecting on a day-to-day basis.
Account Activity is an opt-in service that sends you a monthly report on your activity with search and other products – like what browsers, operating systems, and geographical locations the account has been accessed from, and top search queries. The report also includes email trends, including the number of messages sent and received, and changes in email volume month-to-month.
“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,” wrote Google product manager Andreas Tuerk. “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].”
The company has also highlighted ways the service can bolster personal security.
“Knowing more about your own account activity also can help you take steps to protect your Google Account,” Tuerk wrote. “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.”
Images: Google, Columbia Pictures