Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote an editorial in “The New York Times that reads “Privacy cannot be a luxury good.” But behind the scenes, Google has collected more personal information from the services you use, such as Gmail, and some of them cannot be easily deleted.
A page called “Shopping” shows a detailed list of many goods that you purchased back to at least in 2012. The purchases made using online services like Amazon, Seamless, DoorDash or in stores like Gap, Walmart, but not directly from Google.
But because the digital vouchers went to your Gmail account, Google has a list of details about your spending habits.
Google even knows about things I long forgot I’d purchased, like dress shoes I bought inside a Macy’s store on Sept. 14, 2015. Google knows more about the things that you forgot at the time of purchase, like the Aluminium box you bought from online stores on November 14, 2015.
Visit here to see the history of your online purchases: http://myaccount.google.com/purchases.
“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 told CNBC. “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.”
However, it is not easy to remove all this. You can delete all acknowledgments from your Gmail inbox and archived messages. But most of them save documents in Gmail if you need them later for returns. You cannot delete them from purchases without deleting them from Gmail. When you click “Delete”, it simply redirects to the Gmail message.
You can view your purchases, says Google’s privacy page, and it also says “Information about your orders may also be saved with your activity in other Google services” and that you can see and delete this information on a separate “My Activity” page.
Except you can’t. Google’s activity controls page doesn’t give you any ability to manage the data it stores on Purchases.
Google told CNBC you can turn off the tracking entirely, but you have to go to another page to search setting preferences. However, when CNBC tried this, it didn’t work — there was no such option to fully turn off the tracking. It’s weird this isn’t front and center on Google’s new privacy pages or even in Google’s privacy checkup feature.
Google says it doesn’t use your Gmail to show your ads, and promises it “does not sell your personal information, which includes your Gmail and Google Account information,” and does “not share your personal information with advertisers unless you have asked us to.”
But, for reasons that still aren’t clear, it’s pulling that information out of your Gmail and dumping it into a “Purchases” page most people don’t seem to know exists. Even if it’s not being used for ads, there’s no clear reason why Google would need to track years of purchases and make it hard to delete that information. Google says it’s looking into simplifying its settings to make them easier to control, however.