Way back in December 2018, we reported that Google was building a creepy profile of everything people purchase by scanning their emails in Gmail. In that report, we covered ways to delete this purchase history which included deleting the order data directly from your Gmail inbox. Now a new report is claiming that deleting emails doesn’t work and there’s actually no way to delete this Google purchase history.
The report from CNBC’s Todd Haselton says that he deleted 10 years worth of emails from his Gmail inbox in order to clear his Google purchase history. However, three weeks after deleting all the email, his purchase history is still there. He adds that he can’t delete anything from this list of purchases and he can’t stop Google adding his recent purchases to this list.
Google says that unlinking your subscriptions and changing the activity settings for other Google services can reduce the purchase history data that’s collected. However, it doesn’t provide any specific examples of which subscription settings or activity settings to change in order to stop this purchase data being collected.
Additionally, since Google’s recommendation of deleting purchase receipts from your Gmail inbox doesn’t appear to work, these other recommendations may also do little to prevent purchase data from being collected.
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This report on Google’s purchase history is the latest in a series of stories that show how just how much data Google mines from Gmail and how difficult it often is to disable or opt-out of this data collection.
Earlier this year, the company rolled out a Google Pay integration which automatically scrapes data on loyalty cards, passes, and tickets from Gmail – an integration which allows Google to build an even more detailed profile of its user’s purchasing habits. And after this release, it was revealed that Google is also tracking the purchases of its enterprise customers by scanning the emails in their Gmail inbox.
Ultimately, the only way to be sure that your purchase data isn’t being scraped from Gmail is to use an end-to-end encrypted email provider for all your purchase receipts.