GOOGLE HAS BEEN recording just about everything you've ever bought online.
A page called (funnily enough) 'Purchases' in your Google account settings will yield a list of everything you've been buying, gleaned from your Gmail inbox. The list is retailer neutral, meaning you'll be able to see stuff, even if it came from somewhere unexpected, like rival Amazon.
It covers physical goods and digital services, and indeed anything where an email was sent. This is a common practice in the US, where emailing the receipt is becoming a normal option in big stores. It's less prevalent here in Blighty, though some stores like Argos are beginning to dabble.
Google told CNBC, which first broke the story: "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".
That much is true, but if you keep your receipts on file in your Gmail, there's every chance there'll get rescraped and readded to the list - there's no opt out, or at least not one we could find. The one that Google suggests falls foul of the 're-adding' problem.
Google has said that it isn't using the information for advertising purposes, but given that much of the data its collecting is completely irrelevant to the Google ecosystem, the question remains - 'Seriously Google? What's up with that?'.
Given that the EU has already fined Google over anti-competitive practices, including some specific ones for Shopping, this is probably not going to play well.
Google has said that it is looking to make it easier to control the level of privacy on this 'feature' and even makes reference to it being a security advantage, though we're struggling to work out how and for whom.
This sort of data provides a more useful Google Pay service, given that it creates a "one-stop shop" for your spending, but why any other part of Google needs access is beyond us.
On the plus side, we've been reminded that we bought "Jonathan Livingstone Seagull" on Kindle last year and really ought to give it a read. μ
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