Google has been keeping track of your shopping via Gmail for YEARS despite promising ‘privacy for everyone’
- Silicon Valley company has tracked people’s purchases via their Gmail account
- This even includes items that were not bought directly through the Google site
- Bizarrely, this has technically been disclosed to people via little-known web tool
- Company insists it does not use this information for personalised ad tracking
Google have been tracking their customers’ spending habits and keeping a permanent record online.
The Silicon Valley company has previously promised to honour privacy but has been saving the shopping history of customers via e-receipts sent to their Gmail.
It includes songs bought on linked music accounts, eBay and Amazon purchases, monthly subscriptions and even delivery notes.
The data spans back up to a decade and to delete the vast back-catalogue is a tedious and long-winded process.
Each individual email containing a receipt must be removed from the inbox in order for it to be taken of the list.
To view yours, click here.
Suspicious? The Silicon Valley company, which previously promised to honour privacy, has been assessing peoples’ shopping via e-receipts sent to their Gmail over the past few years
Bizarrely, this information is already available to people, although most are probably unaware because the ‘Purchases’ function is largely unknown.
A disclaimer on the page says: ‘Information about your orders may also be saved with your activity in other Google services’.
However, Google insists it doesn’t use any of this sensitive information for personalised ad tracking.
‘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,’ Google said in a statement.
‘You can delete this information at any time. 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.’
Google’s privacy page insists this information can be deleted, but – as reported by CNBC – Google’s controls page doesn’t allow people to manage the data stored in ‘Purchases’.
MailOnline has contacted Google for comment.
‘Privacy is personal, which makes it even more vital for companies to give people clear, individual choices around how their data is used,’ Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently said
Ironically, the news comes just days after Google CEO Sundar Pichai said ‘privacy cannot be a luxury good,’ in a New York Times article.
‘Privacy is personal, which makes it even more vital for companies to give people clear, individual choices around how their data is used,’ he said.
‘Over the past 20 years, billions of people have trusted Google with questions they wouldn’t have asked their closest friends: How do you know if you’re in love? Why isn’t my baby sleeping? What is this weird rash on my arm?
HOW GOOGLE TRACKS YOUR PURCHASES
The company scans your Gmail for purchase receipts.
They then harvest the information into a ‘Purchases’ page, which can be accessed by clicking here
They insist the contents of this can be easily deleted, but Google’s controls page doesn’t allow people to manage the ‘Purchases’ data.
In order to remove the information, users must delete every single email that contains a receipt.
‘We’ve worked hard to continually earn that trust by providing accurate answers and keeping your questions private. We’ve stayed focused on the products and features that make privacy a reality — for everyone.’
But, earlier this year, a Mail on Sunday reporter discovered Google had an exhaustive and precise record of his activities for every day since December 2014.
The information included times and details of visits to restaurants, shops and bars – and the mode of transport used to get there.
His movements were tracked with a blue line to indicate each location visited. Google searches he had made at each location were also included.
Another reporter’s visit to a cemetery in Macclesfield was archived after he searched on Google’s Maps app for directions to a funeral.
It also saved his search for directions to a hospital in Dublin when he visited A&E, and later recorded when he was discharged.
Google says it gained consent to gather and keep this data by asking users to tick a box when they sign up for a Google account.
But data experts complain the terms and conditions are confusing and do not state for how long it will hold their data.
HOW CAN YOU SAFEGUARD YOUR GMAIL INBOX?
Google has responded to a troubling investigation into the data privacy practices of its Gmail email client with a series of tips for users to keep their accounts secure.
Director of Security, Trust and Privacy at Google Cloud, Suzanne Frey shared a blog post in which she admitted it was common for third-party developers to read the contents of users’ Gmail messages if they had been granted the permissions to do so – one of the primary allegations of the investigation.
Frey also revealed three simple tips for users who wanted to restrict the access third-party developers had in their private inbox.
Here is how to control how much non-Google apps can see —
1. Use the Security Checkup tool
To access this users must go to their account and click on the squares in the top right hand corner
To access this, users need to navigate to their account and click on the squares in the top right hand corner.
Then click on ‘Account’ in the dropdown menu.
Click on ‘Security Checkup’. This enables users to see how many devices are signed into the account and whether there have been any security issues detected in the past 28 days.
It also shows a user’s sign-in and recovery method as well as how many third-party apps have access to data.
If there are apps no longer being used, Google suggested they should be removed to avoid potential privacy concerns.
2. Review permissions
Gmail users should review their permissions before granting access to non-Google applications.
If an app wants to access a user’s Google account it will list what aspects of the service it wants to access – for example to read, send, delete and manage emails.
Users can then decide whether to allow the application access to their Gmail account.
3. View and control permissions
To access this option, users need to navigate to their account and click on the squares in the top right hand corner.
Click ‘Account’ in the dropdown menu, then ‘Apps with account access’.
This allows users to keep track of which apps or services have permission to access a user’s accounts. Users can remove any they no longer trust.
It also lets users look at saved passwords and which ones Google Smart Lock has permission to remember.
If there are any that look untrustworthy or outdated they can be removed.