Google continues to mete out privacy features

Another minor privacy upgrade to Google came yesterday afternoon to Gmail, the ability to check activity in the user's mailbox.

Over the weekend, Google added the "privacy" link on its main search page, bringing it up to speed with California law, and providing users with important information regarding their search data. Now, Gmail has received a minor feature upgrade that allows users to see recent activity in their mail accounts.

In the Official Gmail Blog the company says the feature is being rolled out to the "latest version of Gmail, which is available for Firefox and Internet Explorer 7." It does not go any further as to which versions of those browsers are compatible. The feature did not appear in BetaNews tests with IE 7.0.6.

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As Google describes, a footer has been added to the user's inbox screen that will show the IP addresses of other computers accessing the account, and their last period of activity. When the user clicks on "Details," Gmail opens an activity monitor that shows concurrent session information (whether a POP3 client, mobile device, or Web browser is connected and its IP address) plus a "Sign out of all other sessions" button that will kick off any other machines connected to the mailbox. A "Recent Activity" field shows the same information plus the date and time of past sessions.

Competing free services such as those offered from Yahoo make IP addresses available only during Yahoo Messenger exchanges, though it doesn't yet offer a similar feature in Yahoo Mail for concurrent e-mail sessions. Windows Live Mail's Web-based e-mail client does not offer such information either.

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