There's been a lot of noise about Google's rationalisation of its privacy policies recently. I was late to the party as usual, but popped over to the dashboard to see what it knew.

My immediate impressions:

  1. That's quite a bit of information; all the Android phones I've owned, apps I've installed, blogs, calendars, etc. Looking at it glass-half-empty: "this company knows a lot about me and I find that uncomfortable". Glass half-full: "I'm getting a pile of extremely useful services which I completely take for granted at no cost to myself". In practice I definitely err towards the latter;
  2. I wonder how I could see the equivalent information other advertising networks, or Facebook, own about me? I suspect that I can't - anyone know different? - in which case Google are ahead of the others;
  3. There were links to delete my Google buzz, location history, and web history. Individual products (e.g. Youtube) have the option to remove my history from them too. Removing history doesn't mean all the data has gone. Yahoo, in their more detailed but less clear privacy policy, are a bit more specific on how long this data is kept for ("Yahoo! stores this data in an identifiable form for up to 18 months"). I couldn't see how to delete this data, in any way, on Facebook or Yahoo!

Overall, I felt reassured, particularly after comparing to other parties who gather large amounts of personal data about me. Being able to go to one place to find out how it's used is definitely better than having to read 50 different per-product policies. I'd like to know more how long data is kept in either its original or anonymised form. I'd like Facebook in particular to present a similar view of what they know about me.