Google Shopping oversees all your online purchases by tracking email receipts to your Gmail account.
The Google Shopping purchase history page is of public concern in the CNBC report, even though it has been around for at least a year as part of an update to Google Assistant features.
Depending on when users set up their Gmail account, the list of purchases, including those not from Google Shopping, can be returned several years, which includes subscriptions, movie and music purchases, and anything else purchased online where receipts are sent to that Gmail account.
Purchase Information is part of the ‘Payment & subscription’ page in a Google Account. Google Shopping also collects reservation data for flights, hotels and restaurants from Google Assistant and Gmail.
The Purchase page says, “Only you can see your purchase”, which includes “Your transactions, including online orders and orders, are collected from Google services such as your Assistant and Gmail.”
Clicking on an item gives details about what the item is, the time of purchase, the currency paid and the cost.
There is an option to ‘Delete purchases’, but deleting an item must delete the original email from where the item came from.
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This option may not be ideal for anyone who relies on Gmail to keep a record of purchases, but does not want purchases to be compiled by Google, which notes on the support page that “Information about your order can also be saved with your activities on other Google services.”
In a statement to CNET, Google said it did not use Gmail information to target advertisements. The company stopped scanning email content to adjust ads in 2017, but obviously it still collects data from Gmail for other purposes, such as making reminders.
Google last week announced an updated version of Google Shopping, which allows consumers to buy goods from the retailer’s website, the nearest store, or from Google. This step brought it closer to the Amazon region in online sales.
“We do not use any information from your Gmail message to display ads to you, and that includes the receipt and email confirmation displayed on the Purchase page,” said a Google spokesman.
Other sources where Google Shopping purchases include the Google Play Store, Google Express, and purchases made through the Google Assistant.
Google told CNBC that it created a Purchase page “to help you easily see and track your purchases, orders and subscriptions in one place”.
Google’s senior vice president for advertising and trade, Prabhakar Raghavan, told CNET last week that Google must use “as little data as possible from time to time” to target advertisements, while still showing ads that are relevant to people.