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Google Parses Your Gmail For Financial Transactions

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Mark Jeftovic of EasyDNS

Recently I came across this story  by Todd Haselton that describes how the author located an obscure “purchases” page in his Google account settings and there found a methodical list of his online purchasing history, from third-party outside vendors, going back to 2o12.

The upshot of the story was that:

  • Google saves years of information on purchases you’ve made, even outside Google, and pulls this information from Gmail.
  • It’s complicated to delete this private information, and options to turn it off are hidden in privacy settings.
  • Google says it doesn’t use this information to sell you ads.

Naturally, I flagged this story for the next edition of our #AxisOfEasy newsletter.  Haselton reports that it isn’t easy to locate and delete this information, nor is there a straight-forward path to find it in your privacy settings to disable this behaviour.

This can’t be true (can it?)

The more I thought about this the more I thought “this can’t be true”. I apologize for doubting Haselton, but I thought he had to have it wrong, that maybe he had a stored credit card in his browser that he had forgotten or something, because the ramifications if true, are dire.

First, it means that in order to isolate and parse purchases, Google must then be scanning every email, otherwise, how would they know what’s a purchase and what isn’t?

Further, if they were scanning every email for purchases, what else where they scanning for? Either now, or in the future? The important mechanism, the infrastructure and methodology to scan and parse every inbound email is clearly in place and operational now, adding additional criterion is just a matter of tweaking the parameters.

Then, there is the matter that Google is doing this without informing their users. We can probably wager that there is buried down the rabbit hole of the ToS some clause that alludes to the possibility that Google reserves the right from time to time (including all the time) to do something or another with your email that may or may not involve machine reading it and dissecting it for your behavioural patterns; none of us have ever read it.

More importantly, it didn’t require an explicit opt-in to fire it up.

[ As a belated aside – everybody in tech already knew that the point of Gmail was it was free, and they would scan the contents to target ads. At some point I think they may have announced that they stopped doing that, I can’t remember. But the vast majority of normies (defined as people who don’t dream in XML), don’t realize this, or haven’t given it much thought. However this, parsing out financial transaction data specifically, takes it to a new level.]

I’ve personally verified this is happening

As I said, I initially thought that Haselton had perhaps stored credit cards in his Chrome browser and his purchase history was being populated from that. I still couldn’t believe that Google was in essence reading your email and cataloging your purchases on it’s own.

My Google purchases page existed, but was empty. To test it, I configured my gmail account (which I barely use, for anything other than Google news alerts) to receive any email from my Amazon account.  None of my web browsers have any credit cards stored. Then I went and picked up a new audiobook.

Sure enough…within seconds, my heretofore empty purchases page, suddenly had an entry:

Hovering over the “info” icon anticipates the question, how did this get here?


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