Rack it up as one more way Google tracks your personal data.
Any purchase you make that uses your Gmail account will be logged by Google, according to a discovery recently made recently by a Reddit user. The user uncovered that Google is keeping tabs on any purchase that uses your Gmail account. Google also tracks purchases made via Google Pay or via the Google Play store.
For its part, Google says the purchase information lives in your Google Account and is only accessible by you. “To help you easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings and subscriptions in one place, we’ve created a private destination that can only be seen by you. You can delete this information at any time,” a Google spokesperson told Fox News in a statement.
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“We don’t use any information from your Gmail messages to serve you ads, and that includes the email receipts and confirmations shown on the Purchase page,” the spokesperson added.
But it’s not clear what else Google may be using the information for, as pointed out by BleepingComputer, a publication that covers information security and technology.
And it’s not clear how to prevent Google from extracting this data from Gmail.
“I have no problems with features like this. Just give us the control to disable them,” Lawrence Abrams, the creator and owner of BleepingComputer, told Fox News. Abrams added that he viewed it as an invasion of privacy.
Like Facebook, Google's business model is based on knowing a lot about you. Data collection is done for advertising and to improve Google services. And while not intentionally nefarious, a lot of this is done in the background unbeknownst to the average user.
Ostensibly, there should be a way to control purchase tracking via a setting such as “Privacy & Personalization” or “Data and Personalization” – both accessible on your Google account home page – but that doesn’t appear to be the case. This issue was addressed in other reports too, which found no way to completely turn off tracking.
It's easy to check what Google has tracked so far by going to your Google “Purchases” page. A check of my page revealed everything I had purchased going back to 2013, including reloads on a Starbucks card, iTunes purchases and flight reservations.
If you don't want to store this data, you can remove purchases one at a time. When you do this, you’re sent to your Gmail and you delete the purchase there. There is no single setting that will do this en masse for all your purchases.
Google is looking into simplifying the settings further to make it easier for people to control, the company added.