Yes, Google tracks and collects your online purchases through Gmail. But why?

Personal data is collected through so many services and applications, it’s overwhelming to keep track of it all. It’s even more unsettling, though, when it happens without our knowledge or consent.

According to a report by CNBC, Google has been tracking its account users’ purchase history via their Gmail accounts. The tracking goes beyond just online purchases you might have made via one of its own sites, like Google Play. If you have a Gmail account and you’ve used your Gmail account to receive receipts or other payment confirmation emails from other vendors, Google has aggregated all of that information for you in a Google Account web page no one knew existed called Purchases.

Google insists that the data collected in this manner isn’t being sold or being used to deliver ads to its users, yet other questionable aspects of the Purchases have us scratching our heads.

Screenshot of Google's Purchases page

As CNBC reports, Google says the feature was intended to be a helpful tool that lets people “easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings and subscriptions in one place.” However, the Purchases page is not at all easy to find for those who might use it. Accessing the Purchases page takes quite a few clicks to get there as you have to navigate through about four pages of security settings before you reach a page that lists the Purchases page under a tiny section called My Orders.

Opting out of the system is even more complicated. Google says you can delete this information and turn off the tracking function, but it doesn’t make either of these tasks easy to do. When you finally reach the Purchases page, there’s really only one way to delete your past purchases: Navigate back to the original email that generated the data in the first place, so that you can manually delete it. For a feature that was supposed to make things easier for its users, Google sure makes it difficult to manage.

Contrary to what Google says, there doesn’t actually seem to be a way to to turn off the tracking either. The Activity Controls page in doesn’t provide a direct way to adjust Google’s tracking of your purchasing history. You can tell Google to “pause” collecting your data as it relates to your Web and App Activity, but Google is rather vague on what kind of data collection is actually being put on pause. It never explicitly say that it will stop collecting your purchase history data.

The most worrying thing about the Purchases page is how it was discovered. Rather than be announced, such as with Gmail’s recently released email scheduling feature, it had to be stumbled upon by a reporter. That’s not exactly how we want privacy issues being brought forth, especially in a setting as personal as your email inbox. Who knows what other data Google aggregates about our inboxes and web history without our knowledge?

In the end, we still don’t have a satisfactory explanation for why this Purchases page exists. For all we know, it could be a leftover feature that Google forgot about. However, with the company’s numerous privacy concerns in the past, we don’t feel inspired to give Google the benefit of the doubt.

Smart Home

Best Prime Day smart home deals: Expect Google Home and Echo special offers

Amazon hasn't revealed the exact date, but a leaked PR email indicates it starts July 15. If you have significant electronics purchases on your wish list, holding off till Prime Day could save a bucket of cash.
Smart Home

The best smart thermostats let you stay cool without wasting money

The right thermostat can do more than just adjust the temperature of your home, it can also learn about you and help you save money. Check out our picks for the best smart thermostats on the market right now.
Smart Home

Make a better morning cup with the best coffee makers of 2019

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.

Your smartphone knows all your secrets. Put it on lockdown with these tips

Having your smartphone hacked can feel like someone robbed your house. It's a massive invasion of privacy and a violation of your personal space. We've put together a checklist of precautions that will help you avoid this terrible fate.

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 29 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.

What is Libra? Here’s what you need to know about Facebook’s new cryptocurrency

Facebook released a white paper announcing its new cryptocurrency, Libra, which it intends as a way to enable more people around the world to process online payments. Here's how the new blockchain technology works.

YouTube’s new HD music videos let you relive your youth in vivid detail

Relive your youth in vivid detail with YouTube's new HD music videos. The video sharing website will be converting your favorite, decades-old music videos from SD to HD and the first hundred of them are available to watch right now.

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for June 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

Ice Lake benchmarks show Intel isn’t done firing back at AMD

A leaked benchmark shows Intel's upcoming 10th-generation Ice Lake mobile chip outperforms AMD's Ryzen 5 3500U. These test metrics follow less than a month after Intel and AMD traded dueling keynotes touting their next lines of CPUs.

Dell drops big discounts on Inspiron 7000 and G5 gaming laptops for grads

Dell has been dropping deals on laptops all summer, and now in time for graduation day, you can score a Dell Inspiron 7000 15 laptop or a G5 15 gaming laptop at deeply discounted prices of just $830 and $900, respectively.

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Leaked date and sale predictions

Amazon Prime Day 2019 isn't here yet, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.

Microsoft teams up with Kano to create a DIY Windows 10 PC for kids

Microsoft and Kano have unveiled a build-it-yourself Windows 10 PC aimed at making computing fun for kids. The Kano PC features an 11.6-inch touchscreen and attachable keyboard, and comes bundled with a range of software.

Good news for Mac photographers — Lightroom now available from Mac App Store

Getting your hands on a copy of Adobe Lightroom CC just got a bit simpler for Mac users. The popular photo-editing app launched on the Mac App Store today, allowing photo editors to skip ordering from Adobe and go right to the App Store.

These monitors will brighten up your game room or office, no matter your budget

Whether you want a monitor with a 4K resolution, HDR support, high refresh-rate for gaming, or just a great all-rounder at a good price, we've got something for you. These are the best monitors you can buy right now.