Privacy has become a new buzzword for Google CEO Sundar Pichai, but on Friday it became apparent that the Mountain View, California company collects so much more data across its network of services than it reveals.
Google has been collecting data for years on every retail purchase when the merchant emails the receipt to the consumer’s Gmail account. It aggregates the items bought, the delivery address, the prices paid for the merchandise, and whether or not the order was canceled.
Google, however, says the data is intended to help consumers keep track of their purchases without having to keep the emailed receipt.
“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,” a Google spokesperson wrote in an email to Search Marketing Daily.
Unlike search data, the personal information about purchases, online and offline, is not used to target advertisements to consumers. And Google says that consumers can delete the 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,” the Google spokesperson wrote. “We're always working to help people understand and manage their data.”
The information is displayed on the Purchase page, according to CNBC. It’s a “private” destination that only allows the person who is logged in to their email see the data. Google says it can help the consumer take actions such as tracking a package, canceling a reservation, or renewing a subscription.
And yes, there is a way, says Google, to turn off the Private results setting in My Account if someone doesn’t want to use private information in Assistant responses or Search results, such as “when is my package being delivered.”
The items appear after using Google services like Google PlayStore, Google Express, or through the Google Assistant, but the details also appear in the list when a consumer is shopping from any store that emails the consumer the receipt.