Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Google+ Sign-In

Google announced its single-sign-on service support, Google+ Sign-In.  It's a simple idea.  Just like OpenID and Facebook Connect, Google wants to be the identity platform where many applications can manage their user accounts.  This means the following:

  • Application developers don't have to worry about creating a registration page or losing passwords.
  • Google gets to learn about all user's online identities, and can learn more about where we have accounts and when user signs on.
  • Users don't have to go through sign-up process with new service, and remember just a Google password to access all applications.
Each party gets something in return.  But are they of equivalent value?

It depends on how much you as the user value your online profile and privacy.  

For light users, who rarely use applications, this may not be a big deal.  But for heavy users, who actively use many applications, it may not be as innocent as allowing Google to manage online identities.  By becoming a part of Google+ Sign-In, applications are sharing login session info with Google, and that means Google can track what application you were using at what time.

Information like this was only available through installing malware on your desktop or by requiring users to go through web proxy server.  By connecting all applications with Google, we are exchanging our online privacy with convenience of managing our application accounts.  Essentially the question comes to this:

Is remembering your passwords a big enough problem for you to be tracked by Google each time you use applications?

If the answer is yes, you should use login with Google, login with Facebook and login with Twitter.

The answer is not so clear for me.  I just don't know what kind of applications that I want to use.  I just don't know what Google will do with my online application usage log.

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