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General Discussions

kingfish
MVP

Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

Google uses its email service Gmail to track purchases that customers of the company made, even on third-party websites like Amazon.

Gmail scans emails for receipts and collects these automatically.  The purchases are neatly listed on a hard to find Purchases page on Google's My Account portal.

There you find the list of purchases that you made sorted chronologically. The listing goes back to 2015 in my case, and it includes application purchases, Google hardware purchases, and items that I bought on third-party sites like Amazon or the Lego store.

google gmail purchases

Some purchases are displayed with the correct title, others just with a number on the startpage. A click on any purchase may display detailed information such as the vendor, time and date, order IDs, items that you bought, or the delivery address.

Some purchases come without detailed information, likely when Gmail had difficulties parsing the receipt.

gmail remove purchases

There is no easy way to delete information either. 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. Apart from that, there is no option to clear all the data.

Most Gmail users may not want to delete receipts that they received in emails. It is certainly possible to backup the emails and delete them then to get rid of the purchase listing that Google maintains, but it is not comfortable either as you'd have to delete each email manually to clear the listing. Also, and that is another issue, it won't block future purchases from being listed again.

There appears to be no option to delete purchase information only but keep emails in Gmail.

google delete email

Google notes that the Gmail account owner is the only one who can see the orders on the page. The company told CNBC that it does not use any information found in emails to serve advertisement. Google stopped reading emails for advertisement purposes in 2017.

A help page suggests that Google customers may see and delete the data at My Activity, but that does not appear to be the case. Even more problematic than that is that purchase information is still collected even if you disable any tracking feature on the My Activity website. Granted, Gmail is not even listed there under management options.

Closing Words

Gmail is a treasure trove for Google as email contains lots of personal information including who you communicate with and what you buy online. 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.

Email providers such as ProtonMail, StartMail, or FastMail, all promise that they don't track you, don't show ads, or read your emails.

If you need to stick with Gmail, you could download all emails regularly using Pop3 and delete them from the server afterward.

Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop - gHacks Tech... 

10 Replies

Re: Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

But if you don't use an extension such as NoScript, Google will see what you buy anyway as they're integrated into nearly every shopping site, sans Amazon.

kingfish
MVP

Re: Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

UBlock Origin (Fanboy’s Social Blocking List) , Privacy Badger, Decentraleyes, Multi-Account Containers (firefox new/very cool), and DuckDuck Go search engine....and I never have receipts sent to my Gmail account.

qwixt
Forerunner

Re: Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

Just installed ublock origin

Re: Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

The scary thing is that there's quite a number of people who use one email for everything from insecure forums to their financials to their Windows 10 account.

0 Likes
hardcoregames_
Big Boss

Re: Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

I wonder if Google realizes that this is illegal in Canada and the EU

The US bill of rights has been so watered down as to be scary

kingfish
MVP

Re: Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

If there is a way around it, over it, or under it...someone will find a way. Mainly campaign contributions...

0 Likes
hardcoregames_
Big Boss

Re: Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

I have been tracking the scandals for a long time and I have spoken to the parties personally as well. I have a blog to feed.

Facebook has become a pariah and nobody wants to work for them anymore.

Google is facing a backlash now. This could become very ugly fast with recent legislation and the recent litigation as well.

0 Likes
kingfish
MVP

Re: Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

Remove the revenue the service/app is gone. Then what's next? Pay-per-Google?

0 Likes
elstaci
MVP

Re: Gmail tracks all your purchases, it is difficult to delete them and impossible to stop

Didn't know that Gmail kept track of any transactions I make via the internet. I generally use my Main email account but have used Gmail also at times.

Just checked my Gmail file via the link you posted and found it empty. That is because the email I do save, I make a backup copy and delete the original email from my email program. I use Thunderbird for both of my email accounts. I do have many saved copies of programs I purchased but not with Gmail.

Also it is possible that Thunderbird is preventing Gmail from keeping track. just guessing though.

Now I am beginning to wonder if AT&T my email provider may be doing the same thing.

Informative Post.