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Google Dashboard: Its unintended uses (and abuses)

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(Read caption) Google Dashboard got you confused? It's not too complicated, but it presents some troubling possibilities.

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On Thursday, Google announced Dashboard, a user's one-stop-shop for managing the information associated with their Google account. Cries of praise went up: "Yay for Google! Way to not be evil! Thanks for making it so easy to see all of this!"

But did the clever folks at Google (and they are clever – have you seen Wave?) consider the other sides of what putting all of this information in one place can enable?

When reading about Dashboard and all its one-stop-shop-ness, one can't help but be reminded of the US strategy ahead of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor: keep all ships moored closely together to ward off sabotage. The only problem, as history tells us: that makes them sitting ducks when trouble comes calling.

Some have criticized Dashboard for not bringing anything new to the table – and it's true: all Dashboard does is provide a single page of links to the account management pages of the Google products a person uses. But it's not without utility – or completely harmless.

The most basic (and worst) unintended drawback of Dashboard? A lost (or unwisely shared) password. If private data is meant to be kept private, putting it all in one place is a great way to ensure that if a bad guy gets ahold of your password, he'll have access to everything. Yes, Google points out that Dashboard requires reentry of your password, so leaving your account logged in at a public computer isn't completely disastrous, but still. Really, Google? Is that a good idea?

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