Google Tracks User Purchasers via Gmail

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Google Tracks User Purchasers via Gmail
Short Title Google Uses Gmail to Track a History of Things One Buys
Location Global
Date May 2019

Solove Harm Surveillance, Aggregation
Information Behavioral, Identifying, Transactional, Contact
Threat Actors Google

Affected Gmail users
High Risk Groups
Tangible Harms

Google saves years of information on purchases people make, even outside Google, and pulls this information from Gmail.


Google tracks a lot of what users buy, even if they purchased it elsewhere, like in a store or from Amazon. Surveillance

A page called “Purchases” in Gmail shows an accurate list of many of the things a user bought. The list includes purchases made through online services or apps such as Amazon, DoorDash or Seamless, or in stores such as Macy’s, but never directly through Google. Aggregation

But because the digital receipts go to the Gmail account, Google has a list of info about user buying habits. There is no way to delete this information from Purchases without also deleting them from Gmail.

Google says it doesn’t use this information to sell ads. However, there’s no clear reason why Google would need to track years of purchases and make it hard to delete that information.

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