Privacy has become a mantra for Google, but in the meantime the company is collecting baskets of personal information on each Gmail user as well as other services such as search. While Google gives you directions on how to find the data, some of it cannot be easily deleted.
The company has a list of everything I purchased online and offline dating back to who knows when, along with the estimated fulfillment date. The list also includes canceled orders and is based on the digital receipts that arrive in my Gmail account to help me keep track of purchases.
This collection of my buying habits also lists the price of the items such as a Scuba hoodie from Lululemon for $127.15, as well as the address to which the items shipped. It also lists purchases made through Amazon.
The news on Google's data collection strategy, initially revealed by one media outlet, notes all types of purchases from iTunes to Starbucks.
A Google spokesperson told CNBC that anyone can delete their own 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 spokesperson told CNBC.
So why keep a record of everything that is bought?
I can't help but think about the countless times that a retail clerk at a physical store -- clothing as well as grocery stores -- asked me, "do you want your receipt emailed or printed or both?"
While the privacy page notes that only “you” can view your list of purchases, it also says “information about your orders may also be saved with your activity in other Google services.” It can be seen and deleted on a separate “My Activity” page.
Removing the data from Purchases requires you to delete the transactions one by one from the page. To turn off the tracking, go here and choose “Do not use private results.” The biggest issue is it still doesn't delete everything already collected.
I have reached out to Google and will update the post when I receive answers.
This column was previously published in the Search Insider on May 17, 2019.