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Security & privacy

Years of your online purchase records may not be so easy to delete after all

In this digitally connected world, privacy is becoming a rare commodity. Almost as rare as getting the truth from tech companies.

A few months back, Google told consumers they could delete records of any purchases they made via their Google accounts and Gmail. Not surprisingly, that’s not the case.

Google still keeps track of what you buy even if you delete your records. We’ll tell you how Google is hanging onto your data, as well as how to bypass the company’s products while online.

How to delete your purchases from Google

In May, we discovered that for years Google has been quietly keeping track of our online purchases made through Gmail. It even has a secret page that lets you see what data it’s been recording, but it’s no easy task to delete the information.

To delete your purchases, navigate to your Purchases page. As long as you’re logged in through Google or Gmail, you should see a full list of the purchase history that’s been recorded through your account.

You can delete your purchase history, but Google doesn’t make it easy. You have to erase each transaction on your Purchases page one by one.

Unfortunately, deleting your records doesn’t seem to make any difference at all.


Related: What the new ‘dynamic interactive’ Gmail means for you


Google holds on to records

Recently, CNBC was the first to report that after deleting purchase records, the transactions were still there three weeks later. Digital Trends ran a similar experiment and discovered something even more curious.

The Purchases page showed one recent transaction and a few older ones. After deleting the most recent item, the Purchases page said there were no more purchases and the older transactions had vanished.

The theory is that Google’s Purchases page will only show you one month’s worth of receipts. Purchases older than one month appear to be hidden, making it impossible to delete them.

It seems Google is permanently keeping your purchasing records. Where the company is storing the records and what third-party it may be sharing them with is unknown.

Google said your purchase information is private and can only be viewed by you. It also said it doesn’t use information from your Gmail messages to serve ads, which includes your shopping history.

Forgive us if we don’t believe that assertion. After all, Google keeps track of our data in a way Facebook and Amazon haven’t been able to master.

Google keeps tabs on your location, tracks search history and builds a digital profile based on your browsing habits. Google then provides this data to affiliates like advertisers and feeds it into its own algorithm that gives you recommendations and targeted material you’re familiar with.

You can remove each piece of your digital footprint from Google. Now it even offers an auto-delete function. But is Google really allowing you to delete your data? Remember, this is the same company that claims it doesn’t store records of purchases you made through Google.

Fortunately, you can stop Google from tracking you. has this guide on how to browse, get email, watch videos and more without using Google.

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