Google tracking your online purchase history

Google has a secret page with a list of all the things you've bought online

Google has a secret page with a list of all the things you've bought online

Google keeps a list of your purchases based on receipts emailed to your Gmail account. For instance, the first (humbling) item on my purchases page is "chicken fingers", which I bought last night through the Seamless mobile app. And while that won't delete your past purchases (we've already told you how to do that), or stop Google from tracking future purchases, it will prevent the company from using the data in your search results and other Google services.

Here is what we found when we opened Google Purchases.

Cutting corners: CNBC has discovered that every Gmail account has a purchases record attached to it, built on data gathered from digital receipts sent to the account, purchases made on Google services like the Play Store, and purchases made on accounts linked to a Gmail address. In that case, you can't even trust the Sabrett hot dog guy in Times Square not to squeal about the $3.49 you spent for a dog with everything on it.

And it's not just my own personal information documented through this. For example, I bought my mum, dad, and sister their Hanukkah gifts on Etsy past year and had them shipped directly to them. Check out the Purchases page (myaccount.google/purchases) and you'll be blown away after seeing all of this information.

My chicken fingers were sourced through a receipt on my Gmail account. The only way to delete that purchase record is by deleting every single email receipt you've ever received, one by one. It's also hard to scrub this list without deleting the receipt.

Google, however, did not say how long this web tool has been active. It's nearly as if the company doesn't want to make it easy and obvious to prevent it from learning more about you.

"To help you easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings and subscriptions in one place, we've created a private destination that can only be seen by you", a Google spokesperson told CNBC after the site unveiled the feature.

Google also lets users delete their tracking history through "My Activity" page. "We're always working to help people understand and manage their data".

Google says the information is used to provide personalised services, and is not used to serve ads.

So, uh, happy shopping! 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.

The transaction will only then disappear from your purchase history. 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.

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