Google tracks a lot of what you buy. Google saves years of information on purchases you’ve made, even outside Google, and pulls this information from Gmail. Last week Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote a New York Times op-ed saying that “privacy cannot be a luxury good.” But Google is collecting a great deal of personal information from Gmail, and this data trail is hard to delete. Read more about how Google uses Gmail to track what you buy at CNBC.
Analyst Take: This is just one more example of how the privacy rhetoric from the likes of Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Tim Cook are all a bit overstated. While no, employees aren’t actively reading your email, you can be sure the machines are. Google uses Gmail to track what you buy and they have a ton to gain by learning about your shopping habits. This data becomes usable in algorithms for ad targeting and it becomes valuable for 3rd party data sales to help affiliates and others that may benefit from this information. It will be interesting to watch how the companies speaking about enhanced privacy and data protection shift their practices to achieve more transparency. While many users are apathetic about privacy, it is the industry’s responsibility to provide a more open window to consumers as to how data is being utilized to create experiences AND to provide users the ability to opt-in and out of experiences more readily. At this point, it isn’t happening, but I am bullish on more companies coming to the tables with solutions powered by emerging technology like AI and Blockchain.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.