Most of us expect that the contents of our emails will be safe from prying eyes. Yes, we may realize that the government is trying to swoop them up and archive them, but we expect our email providers not to browse through our emails. But that may not always be the case.
Recent news reports indicate that Google extracts information from users’ Gmail accounts and places it in a separate “Purchases” page that most people don’t even known exists. Attempting to delete those purchases from the “Purchases” page can only be done by deleting the purchase email from your Gmail account, which obviously isn’t good for those of use who want to keep proof of purchase in our email accounts. And for all intents and purposes there’s no way to opt out of Google mining your email for that information.
While Google claims that it doesn’t use your purchase information to develop targeted ads, its actions nonetheless bring up the question of what exactly that data mining is used for. The fact that the company goes through your emails and creates a separate page based on contents that it has identified as purchases means the company is snooping through your email. And if it’s snooping through those emails, what else could Google possibly be snooping through that we don’t know about?
This is all very disturbing, but it’s unfortunately par for the course for Google. The company loves to track users of its applications and services. Users of Android smartphones are probably familiar with prompts to rate businesses and places they frequent, because just using Google Maps to figure out where you are and where you’re going opens you up to being tracked by Google.
Google doesn’t make it easy to opt out of this either, but you can certainly try, at least until you’re opted in again. If you want to look up your purchase history, go to https://myaccount.google.com/purchases. And if you want to make changes to your Google privacy settings, go to https://myaccount.google.com/privacycheckup and https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols. Good luck trying to keep Big Brother Google from tracking you.