Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, was sworn during a hearing of the Court Court Committee in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Google keeps track of what you are buying, even if you bought it elsewhere, like in a store or from Amazon.
Last week, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote a New York Times op-ed who said "privacy can not be a great luxury." But behind the scenes, Google still collects a lot of personal information from the services you use, such as Gmail, and some of them are not easy to remove.
A page called "Purchases" shows an accurate list of many ̵
Google knows about the things I've forgotten about the time I bought, like the shoes I bought inside Macy's store. I also know:
- I'm ordering a Philly cheesesteak on a hoagie roll with Cheez Whiz and banana peppers on January 14, 2016.
- I exposed my Starbucks card in November 2014.
- I bought a new Kindle on December 18, 2013, from Amazon.
- I bought "Solo: A Star Wars Story" from iTunes on September 14, 2018.
And so on.
See this example, which covers some things I bought over the past week:
A list of my purchases was pulled on Google from Gmail.
Todd Haselton | CNBC
Go here to see yourself: http://myaccount.google.com/purchases.
]To help you easily find and track your purchases, bookings and subscriptions in one place, we've created a private destination that can only be seen by you, "Google spokeswoman told CNBC. "You may delete this information at any time. We do not use any information from your Gmail messages to deliver you ads, and it includes the receipts and confirmation of the email shown on the Purchase page."
But there is no easy way to remove all of this. You can delete all receipts in your Gmail inbox and archived messages. But, if you're like me, you can save Gmail receipts in case you need them later for the return. To delete them from Google Purchases and keep them in your Gmail inbox you need to delete them individually from the Purchases page. You will need to do this for many years for purchase information.
You need to manually delete each purchase – or from Gmail – to get rid of it.
Todd Haselton | CNBC
Google's privacy page tells you that you can only view your purchases. But it says "Information about may also save your orders on your activity in other Google services" and you may see and delete this information on a separate "My" page Activity ".
Unless you can. Google's controlling activity pages do not give you any ability to manage the data stored on Purchases.
Google said on CNBC that you can turn off tracking entirely, but you need to go to another page for search setting preferences. It's unique that it's not front and center on Google's new privacy pages or even Google's privacy review feature.
To stop it, Google said, go to www.google.com/preferences and choose "Do not use private results."
Google says it does not use your Gmail to show you ads and it promises to "not sell your personal information, which includes your Gmail and Google Account information," and does not "not share your personal information with advertisers, unless you ask us."
But, for reasons that are still not clear, digging that information into your Gmail and dropping it on a "Purchases" page most people do not seem to know. Even if it is not used for ads, there is no clear reason why Google needs to track purchases years and be allowed to delete that information. Google says it seeks to simplify its settings to make it easier to control.