Google is storing a detailed list of your purchases that could date all the way back to 2012 − and it isn’t easy to wipe the data.
The search giant came has come under fire, after a report shed light on Google’s little-known purchase history page, which is where the company stores everything it knows you’ve spent money on.
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The Purchases page went live last year, but has flown under the radar until now. According to Google, purchases are compiled from sources across your Google Account, including orders placed through the Google Play Store, Google Express and Google Assistant, as well as from receipts and email confirmations received through Gmail.
The company also told CNBC that it “[doesn’t] use any information from your Gmail messages to serve you ads”, adding that only you can see your private Purchases page.
Details for each purchase include what your bought, where you bought it, the time and date, any order ID numbers or delivery statuses and how much money left your bank account.
You can see the shopping data Google has on you by following this link.
So, how can you take control of your data?
Unfortunately, the process isn’t particularly quick or easy. You can find out how Google picked up on a specific purchase by clicking the individual listing, hitting the tiny ‘i’ icon in the top right corner, and clicking ‘Where’s this from?’. This will take you directly to the original item receipt or confirmation.
You can delete the record of individual purchases by hitting the ‘Remove purchase’ button at the bottom of the page. But even then, it’s not that straightforward. Doing so will take you back to the receipt in your Gmail inbox.
This means that if you want to clear out evidence of any of your purchases, you need to delete the receipts themselves.
Even if you’re happy to trash all of your digital receipts, Google doesn’t offer a quick fix that lets you quickly delete seven years of shopping data − you have to go through them one-by-one. This means you might be facing hours of trailing through your inbox ahead of you.
It’s unclear why Google has been pulling data from Gmail and moving it to a separate web page, when it takes a matter of seconds to find an email receipt through the search box.
Though there doesn’t seem to be any clear option to stop Google from tracking your purchases in the future, there are other ways to protect your privacy and lock down the data available through your Google Account.
You can limit what Google knows right now by accessing your Activity Controls and pressing pause on everything you don’t want Google to continue to track.