Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop - gHacks Tech News

Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

Google uses its email service Gmail to track purchases that customers of the company made, even on third-party websites like Amazon.

Gmail scans emails for receipts and collects these automatically.  The purchases are neatly listed on a hard to find Purchases page on Google's My Account portal.

There you find the list of purchases that you made sorted chronologically. The listing goes back to 2015 in my case, and it includes application purchases, Google hardware purchases, and items that I bought on third-party sites like Amazon or the Lego store.

google gmail purchases

Some purchases are displayed with the correct title, others just with a number on the startpage. A click on any purchase may display detailed information such as the vendor, time and date, order IDs, items that you bought, or the delivery address.

Some purchases come without detailed information, likely when Gmail had difficulties parsing the receipt.

gmail remove purchases

There is no easy way to delete information either. While you find a "remove purchase" option attached to any purchase listed on the website, activating that option reveals that you need to delete the emails to remove purchases. Apart from that, there is no option to clear all the data.

Most Gmail users may not want to delete receipts that they received in emails. It is certainly possible to backup the emails and delete them then to get rid of the purchase listing that Google maintains, but it is not comfortable either as you'd have to delete each email manually to clear the listing. Also, and that is another issue, it won't block future purchases from being listed again.

There appears to be no option to delete purchase information only but keep emails in Gmail.

google delete email

Google notes that the Gmail account owner is the only one who can see the orders on the page. The company told CNBC that it does not use any information found in emails to serve advertisement. Google stopped reading emails for advertisement purposes in 2017.

A help page suggests that Google customers may see and delete the data at My Activity, but that does not appear to be the case. Even more problematic than that is that purchase information is still collected even if you disable any tracking feature on the My Activity website. Granted, Gmail is not even listed there under management options.

Closing Words

Gmail is a treasure trove for Google as email contains lots of personal information including who you communicate with and what you buy online. Since there is no way to block Google from parsing the information right now, you may want to consider using a different email account for important activity or switching to a new account entirely.

Email providers such as ProtonMail, StartMail, or FastMail, all promise that they don't track you, don't show ads, or read your emails.

If you need to stick with Gmail, you could download all emails regularly using Pop3 and delete them from the server afterward.

Now You: Which is your preferred email provider?

Summary
Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop
Article Name
Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop
Description
Google uses its email service Gmail to track purchases that customers of the company made, even on third-party websites like Amazon.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. sp808 said on May 18, 2019 at 8:42 am
    Reply

    Using it only for junk.
    Quit using it as primary mail years ago.
    I know that this will happen.

    1. steve said on May 18, 2019 at 7:50 pm
      Reply

      I rarely used it and now it seems for good reason.

  2. Dave P. said on May 18, 2019 at 9:00 am
    Reply

    Damn cheek, I call it. When I checked, I even had a Thermos flask on MY list that was an over-the-counter purchase locally at a branch of a UK nationwide store called Argos. How did they get that? I do have the Argos newsletter and I wonder if GMail might have picked it up from the usual “satisfaction” survey that normally gets sent after purchase. Don’t use GMail for Amazon, otherwise all my stuff would doubtless be on the list. Very uneasy about this.

    1. Dave P. said on May 18, 2019 at 11:38 pm
      Reply

      Further: Just found a confirmation e-mail from the store, as I had reserved the product for collection (forgot about that), and it contains a lot of details, which I suspect were probably parsed or interpreted as an invoice by Google, so it would seem that it’s not just genuine invoices that are getting skimmed for product details and listed. If I hadn’t taken up the reservation and not actually collected the flask, presumably the product would still have been listed as a purchase, to cause confusion.

      1. Anonymous said on May 21, 2019 at 6:47 am
        Reply

        Instead of taking the time to write all this possible hogwash, why didn’t you just click on the “Purchases pages” (https://myaccount.google.com/purchases) to determine if what you suspect is true? Geez, some people drive me nuts!

        In reality, why would I care if Google via Gmail tracks my purchases? I don’t care!

      2. Clairvaux said on May 21, 2019 at 1:33 pm
        Reply

        Let me check the logic here : you don’t care, so nobody should care, right ?

      3. Lorissa said on May 21, 2019 at 4:40 pm
        Reply

        Instead of just reacting to the “don’t care” out of context, why didn’t you read the reason that lead to the remark first?

      4. Clairvaux said on May 21, 2019 at 5:33 pm
        Reply

        @ Lorissa

        I did read the whole thread. What does the context change ?

      5. Lorissa said on May 21, 2019 at 10:49 pm
        Reply

        Then you don’t comprehend very well. The basis of the comment was directed to a person “crying wolf” when he had no idea if a wolf actually existed.

      6. Clairvaux said on May 22, 2019 at 1:50 am
        Reply

        @ Lorissa

        I’m afraid you are the person who does not “comprehend” very well. Read again the whole thread.

  3. Klaas Vaak said on May 18, 2019 at 9:46 am
    Reply

    @Martin Brinkmann: I am surprised you as a privacy-conscious IT reporter (considering all the privacy hacks in the ghacks user settings) are even using Gmail to get purchases confirmed.

  4. Klaas Vaak said on May 18, 2019 at 9:47 am
    Reply

    @Martin Brinkmann: the Purchases Page link gives a 404 error page.

    1. Lorissa said on May 21, 2019 at 6:46 am
      Reply

      Works perfectly for me. Perhaps you have to actually have a Gmail account active on your computer? :)

  5. Torin Doyle said on May 18, 2019 at 10:55 am
    Reply

    So tired of the google spymachine.

  6. Anonymous said on May 18, 2019 at 11:12 am
    Reply

    “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  7. some1 said on May 18, 2019 at 11:42 am
    Reply

    I had “paused” all activities under “Activity controls” and yet they sneakily continue to collect these?!?! WTH This is outrageous.

    1. JEK said on May 19, 2019 at 3:10 am
      Reply

      Dude its a freaking email filter.

      1. Finvana said on May 19, 2019 at 2:41 pm
        Reply

        That nobody asked for.

      2. JEK said on May 19, 2019 at 8:24 pm
        Reply

        Really? Care to say how you know that?

      3. Finvana said on May 20, 2019 at 10:29 am
        Reply

        Have you seen a single post of someone asking for it? Did you care to search it?

      4. k said on May 20, 2019 at 3:50 pm
        Reply

        I wanted it, should I post my requests here Finvana?

      5. Ann said on May 24, 2019 at 1:41 pm
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        Then i’m nobody, Thanks for making me Perfect :)

        I gave all purchase an own label to track them. Now i don’t need to do it manually anymore.
        thanks Google.
        And you knew when siging up for Gmail that Google would read your Gmail.

        lots op people making great fuss about the concequences of their own stupidity.

  8. Barry said on May 18, 2019 at 12:01 pm
    Reply

    All of my purchases are tracked, ebooks, items, streaming subscription, Google has a dossier of me somewhere. off topic, I decided to cancel my streaming service subscription for personal reasons.
    As for emails and other things, our smartphones will become our passwords and signing up. I used my Gmail for everything. Google is good at gathering information, and its terrifying, I can imagine that it would track other people if they ordered certain material for their spare time.

  9. John G. said on May 18, 2019 at 12:39 pm
    Reply

    I stopped using Gmail several years ago due its high level of data collecting. Then I decided to use Yahoo and it came two years later to me with an unexpected annoying surprise: The Huffington Post news, every single day, probably the worst and less impartial news service here in Europe.

  10. Mark Hazard said on May 18, 2019 at 1:38 pm
    Reply

    This is why I stay away from everything Google, including GMail.

  11. stefann said on May 18, 2019 at 1:43 pm
    Reply

    All Google servers are blocked via the HOSTS and NoScript on my computers. Only one allowed is Googlevideo.com (aka Youtube).

  12. Gerard said on May 18, 2019 at 1:58 pm
    Reply

    Well, that’s Google, folks. No surprise here.

  13. Max said on May 18, 2019 at 2:50 pm
    Reply

    Better than ProtonMail, StartMail, or FastMail, get your own domain and email hosting provider. Yes, it costs a small amount each year, but it’s worth it.

    1. Jason said on May 19, 2019 at 6:02 pm
      Reply

      I’ve heard that people who do this are identified as spammers more frequently by their recipients’ email services. Has that been your experience?

      1. Max said on May 23, 2019 at 4:56 pm
        Reply

        @Jason – no, never had a problem with being classed as a spammer, and I’ve been doing this for years.

        @Clairvaux – The same as John Fenderson’s reply.

    2. Clairvaux said on May 19, 2019 at 8:33 pm
      Reply

      @ Max

      You can buy your own domain, and link it to a good, privacy-minded email provider. Or even an encrypted one. Many of them allow that. Tutanota, Proton Mail and Fast Mail come to mind, but that’s a common feature.

      What do you call an email hosting provider ? Is it something different ?

      1. John Fenderson said on May 20, 2019 at 6:22 pm
        Reply

        @Clairvaux: “What do you call an email hosting provider ?”

        I always called them an “email host” or “email provider”. However, most webhosting services that I’ve seen also provide email hosting, so something “web host” slips in there.

  14. TelV said on May 18, 2019 at 3:19 pm
    Reply

    Wouldn’t this constitute an infringement of GDPR?

    Perhaps you could file a complaint with your local data protection body Martin and then let us know what came of it.

    Personally I don’t use Gmail at all.

    1. JEK said on May 19, 2019 at 3:09 am
      Reply

      Not a GDPR infringement. As noted you have to delete the email because this is simply a filter showing your purchases.

  15. Ruslan said on May 18, 2019 at 3:23 pm
    Reply

    “You don’t have any purchases” in my case

    1. Swanny said on May 23, 2019 at 7:30 am
      Reply

      G Suite user? I’m a G Suite user and don’t have any purchases showing up.

  16. kalmly said on May 18, 2019 at 3:45 pm
    Reply

    “Google notes that the Gmail account owner is the only one who can see the orders on the page. . .” Here they make it sound like it is something there to benefit account owners. If that is true, why didn’t they tell anyone how to find their purchase history?

    And here ” . . . The company told CNBC that it does not use any information found in emails to serve advertisement. Google stopped reading emails for advertisement purposes in 2017.” Then why are they collecting the information and what are they doing with it?

    1. Mikhoul said on May 18, 2019 at 5:47 pm
      Reply

      I’m pretty sure they are not collecting any information about your purchase.

      This is just another view into your email. It is literally a search that filters for purchases and a nice way to display them. The reason you need to delete your email to remove it is because that is exactly what you are looking at.

      Your email in a different format. This isn’t creepy at all unless you think it is creepy for gmail to have your email. It is just email search and it is damn useful. I really hope this reactionary, alarmist response doesn’t force google to remove good features like this but they should have explained it lot better.

      In short it’s just another Gmail GUI (interface) to see your invoice so that’s why you need to delete a message to remove it from the page.

      1. JEK said on May 19, 2019 at 3:08 am
        Reply

        This. Total non-story. I think they should explain it more because it is a bit odd to have this stuff on what looks like a Google-only page but it is simply a filter. And I’m curious why there isn’t outrage over the Reservations list that does exactly the same thing? Huh.

        Personally I find that feature useful.

      2. John Fenderson said on May 20, 2019 at 6:25 pm
        Reply

        @Mikhoul: “I really hope this reactionary, alarmist response doesn’t force google to remove good features like this but they should have explained it lot better.”

        I agree that this feature looks harmless.

        However, the response to the feature isn’t entirely unjustified — it’s a reasonable response to be very suspicious of activities from a company that you don’t trust.

  17. ULBoom said on May 18, 2019 at 6:06 pm
    Reply

    Mailbox.org, tutanota, protonmail and little by little, no more gmail.

    1. Clairvaux said on May 21, 2019 at 1:41 pm
      Reply

      Or you could even go one notch lower : Fast Mail, Runbox… You don’t need encrypted providers (which might limit usability) in order not to be tracked.

      Any serious, business-oriented, paid-for, non-Google email provider will free you from tracking (or non-Microsoft, etc.).

      I’m not saying you shouldn’t go for encryption-capable providers. Just pointing out the choice is greater than one might think.

      On the other hand, strangely enough, encrypted providers tend to offer free plans, or cheap ones (12 $-€ / year), contrary to regular, professional providers.

      1. ULBoom said on May 21, 2019 at 2:46 pm
        Reply

        Sure. Similar to VPN’s, some email services that claim to not collect data, actually do and some bury you in ads.

        Mailbox, for example, gives me a large storage space and other features such as online office apps (most of which I don’t use) and zero spam or ads. Proton had a big problem with spam for a while but fixed it.

        Encryption is mostly not a huge deal to me, just part of what the services offer. Most of my emails or file links aren’t sent with a key.

        Many choices, seem to be more today than even a year ago.

  18. VioletMoon said on May 18, 2019 at 8:46 pm
    Reply

    It’s not really that surprising nor disconcerting when placed in a different perspective. By only reading Ghacks information and not returning to original sources, we miss the most important part of the story:

    “Before you get too freaked out about what Google knows about your purchase history, just think about all of the entities that know all of your purchase history, no matter what email app you use. Your bank and your credit card companies, of course. But also every payment vendor (think Visa, Mastercard, Square, PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon, etc.) you’ve ever used online either directly or through a third-party retailer. And of course every point-of-sale system your card has been swiped, inserted or tapped to. Sure Google knows a whole lot about your purchase history. But it isn’t alone . . . .”

    https://www.aivanet.com/2019/05/of-course-google-tracks-your-purchase-history-using-gmail/

    My personal Purchase History had five items, not because I don’t use Gmail; rather, I don’t leave receipts in my account. Once the item is received, the receipt is deleted. Amazon or another vendor also stores the purchase information where I must log in for a purchase, so, if a return is in order, the information is still accessible.

    Use another email account that keeps the same information but never reveals what it is doing with the information. Yes, even ProtonMail. If one uses their “free” VPN service, one may be surprised to find how much tracking is going on:

    “We might also use your data for payment-related matters. This includes sending you emails, invoices, receipts, notices of delinquency, and alerting you if you need to update payment details. We use third parties for secure credit card transaction processing, and we send billing information to those third parties to process your credit card payments.”

    “We send billing information to those third parties . . . .”

    Hint, hint.

    1. John Fenderson said on May 20, 2019 at 5:15 pm
      Reply

      @ViletMoon: ” Sure Google knows a whole lot about your purchase history. But it isn’t alone . . . .”

      I’ve never understood this line of reasoning. When it comes to things like this, how many other entities know that information has literally no bearing on whether or not you can be legitimately concerned about making that number higher.

  19. Clairvaux said on May 18, 2019 at 9:32 pm
    Reply

    “You could download all emails regularly using Pop3 and delete them from the server afterward.”

    I really recommend this whatever your email provider is, unless it’s an encrypted one, or you really, really like and use very much Gmail’s (or anyone else’s) web interface.

    First, you’ll make sure you have a local copy of your emails, and you can make multiple backups of them. Even if your account gets hacked and you lose control of it, you won’t have lost your mails, and the hacker won’t be able to use them to inflict further damage.

  20. Emil said on May 18, 2019 at 9:33 pm
    Reply

    “You don’t have any purchases” 👌

  21. Colin said on May 18, 2019 at 9:41 pm
    Reply

    Do you know how the link for purchases works? I am signed in to gmail, but not to this page, but the link takes me right to my purchase page without signing in.

    1. JEK said on May 19, 2019 at 3:11 am
      Reply

      When youre signed in to gmail youre signed in to Google.

  22. I LOVE g00gle said on May 18, 2019 at 11:59 pm
    Reply

    WHO doesn’t love g00gle?

  23. Steve S. said on May 19, 2019 at 12:04 am
    Reply

    I found that emails that I had “deleted” actually still reside in the “All Mail” folder. So one has to “delete”, then “delete permanently”! Some of the purchases were as far back as 2015. Those emails had been “deleted” long, long ago. The Trash folder says emails older than 30 days are automatically deleted. If so, why were there purchase emails from 2015? It seems that they save copies of purchase emails in some folder other than the normal folders?? Seems that the only way to truly delete them is to use the Purchases page, delete them individually from there and then go to Trash and delete permanently again!…. After I did this, I still ended up with 16 purchases showing in the Purchases page but clicking on any of them resulted in a 404 error. WTF? If this is all just an innocent feature for GMail users, why is the interface so obscure and there is NO feature to allow the user to opt out?

  24. Anonymous said on May 19, 2019 at 12:16 am
    Reply

    What else does Google track ‘for my benefit’ without showing me via menus that it exists?

    1. JEK said on May 19, 2019 at 8:27 pm
      Reply

      This information (purchases) is displayed clearly under your Google account page under one of the menus on the left-hand side. It is not hidden as you are implying (and the original article implies).

      1. Clairvaux said on May 21, 2019 at 1:44 pm
        Reply

        It’s hidden for me, because I never browse my Google accounts (plural). I access them through an email client. So I have to relay on articles such as this to know what Google has been up to behind my back.

  25. boris said on May 19, 2019 at 12:37 am
    Reply

    Yahoo Mail does the same thing. It created “Purchases” sub mailbox and lists collects all my purchases in it. I do not see any options to prevent them from doing so.

  26. Ray said on May 19, 2019 at 2:55 am
    Reply

    You could actually see this coming from the start. Google already tracks your search history and so it was just another step to track your purchases. You might as well be aware that you did a deal to obtain services(email and otherwise) and agree that you will be selling your info. Well if Google cares about how many shirts and underwear I buy, it might as well use it and give me info on sales and promos.

  27. Clairvaux said on May 19, 2019 at 3:42 am
    Reply

    It’s not “just a freaking email filter, dude”. It’s a new tracking feature, just as your search history or your location history. Except you can’t turn it off, it seems (I don’t have any switch to toggle the setting off on my account, although I don’t have any purchases recorded, either).

    It’s in Google Account / Payments & Subscriptions, and it says :

    “Your transactions, including deliveries and online orders, gathered from Google services like your Assistant and Gmail.”

    By contrast, Activity Controls, such as Web Activity (“Saves your activity on Google sites and apps, including associated info like location, to give you faster searches, better recommendations, and more personalized experiences in Maps, Search, and other Google services”) can be Paused (not Stopped, strangely enough).

    Freaking email filters, dude, are explicitely set up by me. Dude.

    1. JEK said on May 19, 2019 at 8:33 pm
      Reply

      Wrong. It’s not tracking feature, it’s an email filter dude. And who said you’re the only one who can set those up? The various items on the left side of the web interface are all built-in filters based on labels. You’re telling me those are not OK because *you* didn’t set them up? Nobody was bitching this much when Inbox was filtering all of their emails into bundles (this is *exactly* the same kind of feature..a filter).

      You’re just choosing to a: freak out about it for no good reason given that b: you use Gmail knowing full well it’s a free service. Let me guess, you don’t want them filtering your spam messages either?

      1. Clairvaux said on May 19, 2019 at 8:36 pm
        Reply

        @ JEK

        You’re just trolling.

  28. lux said on May 19, 2019 at 3:56 am
    Reply

    MailFence is quite good.

  29. Anonymous said on May 19, 2019 at 4:34 am
    Reply

    Just copy your receipt somewhere and delete the email message. Job done.

    More of a concern is whatever else they are electronically reading. Nah! thinking about it, nobody is going to stay awake reading about the dull lives most of us have.

  30. BeSmart said on May 19, 2019 at 8:52 am
    Reply

    Horting sensitive e-mails on external servers is never a good idea; and smart people don’t do.

  31. Michel Basilieres said on May 19, 2019 at 6:20 pm
    Reply

    It’s hardly hard to find, it’s right there in the main menu of your account settings as Payments & Subscriptions. If you’re using gmail – or any mail- to receive invoices, how is this surprising at all? I understand some people are paranoid about data collection, but the reason I use Google services is, they actually allow me to use the data for my purposes. On a related note, don’t be surprised to discover your bank and credit card company have a list of your purchases. Or that you’re tracked by security camera on every block. Or that your phone keeps your call history. Or that your doctor has records of every visit and prescription. Sheesh. I even have to consent to this comment being stored by this website.

  32. Pat said on May 19, 2019 at 11:52 pm
    Reply

    Google told CNBC that it does not use any information found in emails to serve advertisement.

    Why do reporters accept what we already know as an answer? Because its a no-brainer?

    Why are we too darn dumbed-down?
    Even after 20 years, the fox is still outsmarting the chickens.

    What are ALL the ways which your gmail is used for its various services and profiles?

    Remember, that until recently third parties could read your gmail.
    Later this year Google plans to insert ads into you gmail.
    As a soultion I use VFEmail with an (about:config customized) Thunderbird with email 10 alias [1] for $15/year. The powers that be hate this and have successfully attacked VFE servers. I use POP3 and delete all server email automaticallyafter 10 days.

    [1] compartmentalize for privacy and to trace who sold or shared my email address

  33. Casey said on May 20, 2019 at 7:20 am
    Reply

    Interestingly enough, the only thing listed on my Google account is a purchase I made in 2013. I don’t keep email on Gmail but use Thunderbird to pull them down locally so perhaps this only applies to items stored within Gmail.

    1. Anonymous said on May 20, 2019 at 7:54 am
      Reply

      That’s the way I read it, as well. Mine are downloaded via Office 2010. Only the messages I have not archived remain. I use a Macro in Office to archive.

  34. Steve said on May 20, 2019 at 8:00 am
    Reply

    That’s the way I interpret my results. Most of my email messages are deleted after reply or competion of the topic but I like to keep some for quite a while and like to archive all purchase information. I have a handful of records while there would be hundreds if Google held onto them. What is left relates only to undeleted messages. The purchases link (now) helps me track down receipts not archived.

    Am I worried about Google doing it? No.

  35. Anonymous said on May 20, 2019 at 12:29 pm
    Reply

    That is actually pretty useful, its easy then to find receipts for in case need warranty or service etc.

  36. Robert said on May 20, 2019 at 1:24 pm
    Reply

    Need to Know Security – The Ultimate Irony

    Why has Google begun firing employees for simply reading about new, invasive company projects?
    Google states because ‘They Don’t Have a Need To Know’ [1]

    “It’s a violation of our policies to improperly access, copy, or share confidential or need-to-know information, whether or not it is explicitly marked,” Walker wrote in the email. “Doing so could subject you to disciplinary action. We have FIRED GOOGLE EMPLOYEES who violated our data policies.” https://www.businessinsider.com/google-executives-clamping-down-on-internal-information-2019-5

    My home and auto insurance privacy statement states ‘we may ask a consumer reporting agency for a report about you’. Does the public understand that Google is already become the ultimate consumer reporting agency? [2]

    Does Google sell them every aspect of your gmail contents and contacts? Are their private propriety scoring systems being used to charge you higher rates? Or limit, deny coverage or career advancement?
    Are Google Classroom class scores/grades/profile being assimilated with what you purchase?

    Are there any limits on monetizing your data!

    https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/credit-reports-and-scores/consumer-reporting-companies/companies-list/

    [1] especially if projects violate basic human rights being modeled after China’s brutal Social Credit System

    [2] its not even on the radar

    1. WOOOOOOOW said on May 20, 2019 at 2:41 pm
      Reply

      What did you just say?

  37. ULBoom said on May 20, 2019 at 3:24 pm
    Reply

    There’s no point in google doing this that I can see. The purchases disappear if the email record is deleted. If not, google can just steal the email. My gmail (which I really need to finish transferring to my paid service) is free, so I have little expectation of privacy.

    This separate purchase storage is a convenience if your purchases can’t be accessed because you don’t have an account at a store, otherwise, redundant.

    Overall, gmail isn’t too bad compared to the games google plays with their android play store notifications, nasty little barking dogs constantly biting your ankles before peeing on them.

    Amazon’s history is beyond invasive, it’s facebook awful and farcically silly, a constant stream of suggestions to buy things you’ve already purchased (“Others bought this hammer with your phone screen protector” WTF?). History can be deleted only by putting cookies in your browser, no thanks.

    FYI, the gmail web interface and many of the settings changed a while ago, you may want to review them. As expected, a number of loggers (grammar suggestions, etc.) were added or turned on by default.

    1. Clairvaux said on May 20, 2019 at 6:42 pm
      Reply

      Amazon tracking is precisely what I make an exception for. I find it very useful, and remarkably tailored to my taste.

      For example, it makes a mockery of the oft-repeated mantra, by small bricks-and-mortar booksellers, that you should buy at their place, because only they can “give you proper advice about what books to buy”.

      I love to quote that incident, where, in one of those bookshops I was a regular at, I once asked for a specific book which I wanted (so, no advice needed here) ; and Mr. super-educated Bookseller told me : you shouldn’t buy such books. Because, not politically-correct.

      There’s no pretentious dumbass at Amazon telling me I should not buy the books that I want to buy. Their software hits the nail on the head regarding which books might actually interest me (of course, those are almost never available at my next-door physical bookshop). And it’s the same for other products.

      1. ULBoom said on May 21, 2019 at 3:01 pm
        Reply

        Good, glad it’s useful! My purchases are all over the map with very few repeats so it’s not too useful to me, maybe I’m more an exception than the rule.

        It’s not the history so much as them inserting it into my browsing too often. The hammer and screen saver were actual purchases, two things that should stay away from each other, an odd combo :)

  38. Geoff said on May 20, 2019 at 3:29 pm
    Reply

    A Ruthless Software Engineering Perspective

    Anything Google ‘touches’ for a millisecond is processed through its advanced AI analytical algorithms. The results are disseminated into ALL other ‘interested’ Google products and services.

    Google thanks the tech savvy here for their deletions. This reducing its storage space for raw data it no longer needs.

    Exactly why my kiddo’s are in pre-school, to gain that critical-thinking edge!

  39. Charlie said on May 20, 2019 at 4:28 pm
    Reply

    I know that many of you hate MS but I wonder whether outlook.com emails are being tracked similarly to Google.

  40. John Fenderson said on May 20, 2019 at 5:10 pm
    Reply

    “Which is your preferred email provider?”

    While I do have a gmail account (primarily for testing and junk purposes), my primary email provider is the company that I use to host websites intended for public use. I run my own mailserver, and use the webhost to relay outgoing mail and to route mail from my primary domain to me (mail to my other domains are routed directly to me through an MX record in their DNS).

  41. Thomas said on May 20, 2019 at 6:29 pm
    Reply

    The headline is a strange mix of overstatement and understatement. Yes, Google does track all purchases that go through your GMail account. But that’s just because they track *all* messages, purchase-related or not. Purchase, payment and delivery confirmations from companies have a standardized, easily identifiable format. Just like airline or train itineraries, which GMail also filters and automatically reminds you of.

    What we need to understand is that *whoever* has access to our unencrypted email has access to all sorts of information on us. That always includes the providers. Even if we do encrypt everything, which is impractical and only safe as long as the encryption isn’t compromised or broken by sheer computing power, they still have all the metadata to build profiles from. (As in “We kill people based on metadata”, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2014/05/10/we-kill-people-based-metadata/). It might be a compromise to spread your mail and online purchases over a number of smaller providers and use encryption more often. But that doesn’t solve the underlying issue.

  42. Arnold said on May 20, 2019 at 11:26 pm
    Reply

    @Thomas
    You seem confused[1]. Being trusted to access data does not imply selling or assume tracking. With Google there is NO trust. Their actions have been deceptive and untrue for 20 years. Now they are getting fined $10 billion/year!

    The real issue Google only pays the most brilliant people who take advantage their awesome power and responsibility to rule over everyone else. And too become crazy rich. Greed, intelligence and a lust to control fellow citizens without ethical human qualities. You want proof Thomas?

    Do you know what Google does for its personal privacy?
    Google’s introverted con-founder has mysteriously disappeared from public life and is reportedly spending more time on his PRIVATE Caribbean island. The conscience must be eating away caustic like an acid.
    https://www.businessinsider.com/google-cofounder-larry-page-has-mysteriously-disappeared-from-public-life-2018-9

    [1] or attempting to confuse others

    1. Mark said on May 21, 2019 at 6:11 am
      Reply

      I am sorry Arnold but you bring nothing to the conversation. Only conspiracy theories. Your only argument is that you hate them because they make money and you don’t.This is a technological site.

    2. Clairvaux said on May 21, 2019 at 1:50 pm
      Reply

      So, which is it ? Is Google founder a malevolent person because he acts as if he were the master of the world ? Or is he slimy and devious because he has a hands-off approach and has distanced himself from his company ? Can’t be both.

      Should we kill all introverted people ?

    3. ULBoom said on May 21, 2019 at 3:08 pm
      Reply

      I honestly don’t understand why more people who have made it big in business just don’t check out and have fun the rest of their lives. We have no inherent higher calling to work forever. So, good for Brin or whomever you meant.

      1. John Fenderson said on May 23, 2019 at 5:57 pm
        Reply

        @ULBoom: “I honestly don’t understand why more people who have made it big in business just don’t check out and have fun the rest of their lives.”

        I think that it takes a certain type of personality to make it truly big in business. That personality type is likely to consider their work to be “fun”.

    4. John Fenderson said on May 21, 2019 at 5:01 pm
      Reply

      @Arnold:

      In all fairness, considering the state of things today, if I were rich enough I’d be sorely tempted to buy an island and hide away as well.

  43. Anonymous said on May 21, 2019 at 3:27 pm
    Reply

    Too many commenters justifying a filthy privacy-selling mega-corporation like Google analyzing people’s mail to find out what they buy, like if it was obvious that it was only to serve people’s interests and not theirs at all, by eroding privacy expectations. Especially this disgusting JEK person calling people defending their basic rights “reactionary” and “bitching”. Definitely pitchfork time against those companies and their shills.

    1. Anonymous said on May 22, 2019 at 7:59 am
      Reply

      Emails have tags today. The world has moved on. They don’t have to read an email to organize it as a Sales email, a Primary email, a Social email, a Promotions email, a Forum email in 2019. Now go back to your cave and play with your travel pigeons.

  44. Ananya Gupta said on May 22, 2019 at 12:07 am
    Reply

    What a non-story. This is a complete non-article type bullshit because it is just another ‘view’ into your email with specific intelligent filtering.

    This website is becoming more and more like like a privacy nutjob because it fails to even provide factual information on how this information is retrieved and what it truly means. It’s just a glorified index format and you can delete the emails if you want to remove them from the index for your purchases.

    This is the specific index used to provide you information related to ‘where is my package’ or ‘when is my next flight’. This is not an invasion of privacy. These are the services and features Google advertises and you signed up for them when you chose to use their products.

    You can feel free to go to Outlook.com or anyone else which is also headed in the same direction or stick to a self-hosted dumber solution.

  45. Anonymous said on May 22, 2019 at 2:13 am
    Reply

    Gurgle spying on ME!!! They really are evil. Never use Chrome OS, Google search. Never set up a password for YouTube Delete all cookies. Block Doubleclick, etc., use Spyware Blaster, Bluehell Firewall, Disconnect, and Ublock Origin.

    1. Claire said on May 22, 2019 at 11:23 am
      Reply

      Honest question. How old are you?

  46. Anonymous said on May 22, 2019 at 11:39 am
    Reply

    I had only one item in the Purchases page of my Google account but had no emails stored in my Gmail account (not only empty inbox but no emails at all everywhere in my Gmail account).
    Indeed when I clicked on “Remove purchase” and then on “View email” I was simply brought to my empty Gmail inbox.
    So the existence of an email in my Gmail account is not needed for items to be stored in the Purchases page of my Google account…
    Anyone else with this situation?
    Haven’t read the previous comments to this post

    1. Anonymous said on May 22, 2019 at 11:49 pm
      Reply

      Is it still in Trash?

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