Google’s New “Account Activity” Service Raises Privacy Concerns

Google Sign SC 300x199 Google’s New Account Activity Service Raises Privacy Concerns

A new service offered by Google is raising some eyebrows, as users now have access to monthly reports that reveal all their online activities using Google products (Gmail, YouTube, Google+ social network, online search, etc.). Called “Account Activity,” the new feature will allow users to “step back and take stock of what you’re doing online,” Google product manager Andreas Tuerk noted in a blog post. “Knowing more about your account activity also can help you take steps to protect your Google Account.”

According to Tuerk, signing up for the service will provide Account Activity subscribers with a monthly report that delivers a variety of benefits, including “transparency and control; summarized data associated with each product you use when signed in to your account; and links to change your personal settings.”

The service supplies users with information such as their website history, what sites they frequent, the number of e-mails they’ve sent and received in the past month, and other tidbits relating to accounts that are associated with their e-mail address. Further, as more reports are pulled, activity summaries will show changes in use over time.

The company’s Public Policy blog provides an example of how the program works:

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. 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 blog post goes on to say that the feature will arm users with powerul tools to protect their accounts, as they can review their account history to identify “sign-ins from countries where you haven’t been or devices you’ve never owned.” Moreover, users can change their password immediately and, if need be, sign up for a more beefed-up level of security. “We wanted to make it easier for signed-in users to understand, manage and protect their information on Google,” said one Google spokesperson.

Read More at The New American. By Brian Koenig.

Photo Credit: Robert Scoble Creative Commons

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Who’s Buying Barry? Obama’s Swimming in Dubious Campaign Contributions

Susan Stamper Brown,

President Obama had a busy week. After helping to eliminate the world’s number one terrorist, Obama switched gears to focus on raising a record $1 billion in campaign contributions. Rather than capitalizing on bin Laden’s demise by using an event to rally allies in a focused campaign to finish the job to root out bin Laden’s more notorious associates, Obama is rallying supporters to donate their capital so he can build up his campaign war chest. First things first.

Apparently the whole campaign finance issue is so complicated that only someone like Obama can fully understand it. He’s been all over the map when it comes to finance reform; you might say he was for it before he was against it. In June 2008, Obama announced he had reversed his original stance and would forgo public campaign financing because, “The broken system we have now, a system where special interests drown out the voices of the American people will continue to erode our politics and prevent the possibility of real change.”

Soon after making that statement, unprecedented amounts of cash poured into Obama’s campaign coffers from special interest groups showing us that the only “real change” he offered was a new spirit of corporatism, when powerful Silicon Valley Green energy leaders like Steve Westly seemingly purchased a seat at the government’s table.

The more than $500,000 in campaign contributions Westly raised is a gift that keeps on giving. Now appointed to Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s advisory panel, Westly is granted regular access to Chu. Companies backed by Westly’s venture capital firm received over a half-billion dollars and Tesla Motors, a company Westly has ties to, saw its stock rise six percent after the Obama administration announced a federal rebate plan for electric cars….

Read more.

Is Your Internet Connection Funding Liberals?

Michael Reagan,

We keep hearing claims that a lot of money goes into the pockets of so-called right-wing groups, but we hear nary a word from the media of where the really big bucks originate and where they end up.

That’s too bad, because if the truth were known Americans would discover that those huge political contributions we keep hearing about really help finance far-left candidates and their generally wacko political causes.

Liberals already control many aspects of American life, and they have undue influence on the Internet. Let’s get the Internet back and stop supporting the Democrats with our dollars.

What do I mean? As I reported last summer, people who use e-mail or other services from companies such as Google, AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple are unwittingly helping the liberals. These companies are, and will continue to be, huge supporters of those who are damaging our country.

The influence of these companies also extends internationally, where the liberal grip on the Internet has been demonstrated anew in the turmoil in Egypt. There, according to media reports, it is playing a key role in stirring up the mass protests that are clogging the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities such as Alexandria, and fueling demands for the immediate ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

While I support the Egyptians who truly yearn for greater freedom on the American model, I am concerned that the movement is being manipulated by those who favor a hard-line, Iranian-style, Islamic theocracy.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Google executive Wael Ghonim, just released from 12 days of Egyptian detention, confirmed that he was responsible for the Facebook page that ignited “the revolution of the youth of the Internet.”

This is the same Google where CEO Eric Schmidt is a personal friend of President Barack Obama, and a member of Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page contributed a whopping $140,000 to the liberal side of the same-sex-marriage campaign in California, a favorite cause of liberals.

Read more.

Video of the Day: Investigate Google’s “Secretive Relationship” with Obama Administration

Google’s cozy relationship with the Obama administration has troubled Americans for some time. National Legal and Policy Center founder Ken Boehm wrote a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa to investigate Google’s Street View collection team, which improperly collected private e-mails and passwords from insecure Wi-fi connections. In the newest twist, the organization Consumer Watchdog has called on Issa to investigate Google for perks it may receive from the government. A better question is: What is Google giving the Obama administration in exchange for these alleged sweetheart deals?

Congress Must Investigate Google’s Obama Ties

Ken Boehm,

Yesterday I wrote Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Darryl Issa (R-CA), the chair and ranking member of the House Government Oversight Committee, urging a thorough investigation of both Google Street View and the FTC’s recent conduct during its investigation of the program. Click here for a 6-page pdf of the letter that includes additional background on Google’s extensive and close lobbying connections with the Obama Administration.

As part of Google’s “Street View” operation, fleets of specially outfitted cars drove through multiple countries collecting photos, video and, as Google now admits, sensitive personal information from WiFi connections. Yet in late October, the Federal Trade Commission abruptly ended its investigation of “Street View” – a decision that came on the heels not only of Google’s admission that its surveillance was much more serious than previously disclosed but only days after a $30,000-a-head fundraiser for President Obama at the home of a Google executive.

The FTC’s decision came only four days after Google admitted a key fact it had long denied: that “Street View” did capture URLs, e-mails and passwords. In addition to Google’s credibility being shredded, this news should raise serious questions about eavesdropping, wiretapping and consumer protection.

Read more.