Google has unveiled a new feature of its popular Gmail service that will allow users to see how many terminals their email account is open on. The new Gmail feature will allow users to remotely log off of any terminal either that they forgot to close or that someone else used to gain access to their Gmail account. Google’s new Gmail feature will be beneficial not only for public terminal users who may have forgotten to log off of a public computer, but also to monitor Gmail accounts for privacy intrusions.
With Gmail’s new privacy feature, users will be able to view both the IP address (in a summary screen) and the method (i.e., browser, mobile, etc.) and time of account access (in a detail screen) to determine which, if any, IP addresses concurrently logged into the user’s Gmail account represent that user’s access via another computer. Gmail will also display the IP address of the computer from which the user is accessing this list. After viewing the list, the user can choose either to leave concurrent sessions open or to “sign out all other sessions”.
While the utility of Gmail’s new privacy feature is uncertain - I imagine that many Gmail users probably don’t know what an IP address is, much less what the IP address of their home computer is - this feature does represent a good step forward for Google in showing a commitment to protecting users’ privacy. I note that Google has provided instructions for people to find out their computer’s IP address. Hopefully, other email providers will follow suit.