According to EPIC, that's exactly what Google's doing with this purchase data. To that end, EPIC requests the FTC force Google to divulge all of its third-party partnerships, which the tech titan noted "capture approximately 70% of credit and debit card transactions in the United States" in the May blog post.
"Google has collected billions of credit card transactions, containing personal customer information, from credit card companies, data brokers, and others and has linked those records with the activities of Internet users, including product searches and location searches".
The Electronic Privacy Information Center is concerned that Google's methods, the details of which are not public, may not sufficiently safeguard users' privacy.
A privacy rights group filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to stop a new Google program that tracks consumer behavior even when they are not shopping online.
"Clearly as Google moves to extend its advertising dominance from the online world to the offline world, alarm bells should be going off", he says. However, The Electronic Privacy Information Center says that google continues to store server and click data even when the controls are turned off. It had then developed a mathematical formula that would anonymize and encrypt the transaction data, and then automatically match the transactions to the millions of U.S. users of Google and Google-owned services such as Gmail, search, YouTube and maps. In a statement, Google said it had taken pains to build custom encryption technology that ensures the data the company receives remains private and anonymous. The company replied it requires that its unnamed partners have "the rights necessary" to use this data. When asked if users had consented to having their credit and debit transactions shared, Google would not specifically say.
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In its complaint, reviewed by The Washington Post, the privacy group alleges that if consumers don't know how Google gets its purchase data, then they can not make an informed decision about which cards not to use or where not to shop if they don't want their purchases tracked.
Advertisers receive aggregate information.
Users can opt out anytime, Google says.
Google said users can opt out of the tracking by going to the My Activity Page, clicking on Activity Controls, and unchecking "Web and Web Activity". The Mountain View-based company adds that it does not share or give a third party company access to customers' information and that customers can opt out of the program. The FTC agreed that Snapchat was being misleading, and the company eventually settled the charges.
Google can match in-store spending to ads if a consumer provides their email address at the register.