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Revealed: It appears Google is sharing payment data with 3rd parties by default, and the opt-out setting is deceptively hard to find

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

Google may be known for many things these days – both extremely good and useful, and extremely bad and damaging. But safeguarding the privacy of users is likely not the one feature the tech giant’s brand could possibly claim to its name – not after all the evidence to the contrary.

More than that – it’s fair to say that even claiming not to actively abuse users’ personal data and hence privacy would be a hard sell nowadays.

And that’s despite any number of opinion pieces CEO Sundar Pichai may take his time to pen for such American “newspapers of record” like the New York Times – something he did recently, defending his company’s privacy policy while at the same time managing to relativize the very concept of online privacy.

No matter, perhaps – because on the bright side, Google and just in general web users seem to be increasingly aware of this hypocrisy – and rejecting it.

And the company doesn’t even make much effort to hide its real attitude, as it’s right there in the Google Payments privacy settings. That is, it’s right there – for those who manage to find it.

Namely, somewhere in the weeds of the settings of the service, Google is making sure its users agree – by default – while likely unaware of it – that they are “sharing personal information about their creditworthiness between GPC (Google Payment Corp.) and its affiliates.” It’s important to note that this box is ticked by default and users have to opt-out to remove it.

For example, something we found is that when you go to the Google Payments settings, you’re not presented with a privacy opt-out tick box for you to remove yourself from having your personal information shared with 3rd parties:

However, when you head to Google Payments privacy policy page it says:

“If you do not want our affiliates to use your personal information collected by us and shared with them to market to you…or if you do not want Google LLC or its affiliates to inform a third party merchant, whose site or app you visit, whether you have a Google Payments account that can be used for payment to that merchant, please indicate your preference by logging into your account, going to the Google Payments privacy settings page, and updating your preferences.”

Scroll down and click this link near the bottom…

…when you click it, it will take you back to the previous Google Payments Settings page, but now you’ll be able to see a previously hidden Privacy option:

It’s only now that you get to see your Google Payments privacy settings and, conveniently for Google, the box is automatically ticked – suggesting that you want to allow the following:

This suggests that Google is sharing data with several 3rd parties, and this would be very hard to find for the average user – if you’re not someone that looks deep into privacy settings as we do. While the hard-to-find privacy setting is bad enough on its own, worse is the tech industry’s favorite bypass of their users’ best interests, and sometimes, regulation: the opt-out. This is employed instead of offering sane and fair defaults for a software or service, thus allowing users and/or customers to decide to use some potentially controversial features of their own accord – i.e., explicitly “opt-in” instead of having to figure out how to “opt-out.”

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

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