Dashboard shows data Google has about you

November 5th, 2009

Google added a great new service, Dashboard, that summarizes data stored for a Google account — see MY ACCOUNT>PERSONAL SETTINGS>DASHBOARD.

“Designed to be simple and useful, the Dashboard summarizes data for each product that you use (when signed in to your account) and provides you direct links to control your personal settings. Today, the Dashboard covers more than 20 products and services, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Web History, Orkut, YouTube, Picasa, Talk, Reader, Alerts, Latitude and many more. The scale and level of detail of the Dashboard is unprecedented, and we’re delighted to be the first Internet company to offer this — and we hope it will become the standard.”

This is a good move on Google’s part. But while there’s a lot of information included, it’s not everything that Google knows about you — e.g., data in cookies, click throughs data from search results and information from companies it’s acquired, like Doublclick. Still, it is a big step in a positive direction.

Takoma Park uses Scantegrity voter verifiable voting system

November 4th, 2009

Scantegrity voter verifiable voting systemYesterday was the first time a truly voter verifiable voting system was used in any binding government election, thanks in part to work being carried out at UMBC’s Cyber Defense Lab under the direction of Alan Sherman.

Takoma Park, MD used the Scantegrity system for its municipal election after testing it in a mock election last April. Technology Review has a story, First Test for Election Cryptography, that quotes Anne Sergeant, the chair of the Takoma Park board of elections

“Before trying Scantegrity in an official election, the city held a mock vote in April to work out kinks in the system. In that test, she says, about 30 percent of participants went home and used the system to verify their votes. Sergeant says that Scantegrity representatives talked extensively with voters and election officials after the April test and have improved their system accordingly. “I hope we can provide an experience where people walk away and say, ‘That was awesome,'” she says. “It’s a goal to which we aspire.”

The Scantegrity system was created by a group of universities, including UMBC. A voter uses a paper ballot marked with invisible ink, which is exposed with a special marker. That marker reveals a code, which the voter can then use to check online whether their vote was tabulated correctly.

Ben Adida has been auditing the election and documenting the process on his blog.

See also the ComputerWorld story, E-voting system lets voters verify their ballots are counted, and audio report on WAMU.