Many users on Reddit and other social media platforms have shared anecdotal stories about making a purchase in a store, and then immediately seeing ads for that item on their phone or computer. Most of these were written off as chance, but once again we see these “paranoid” stories are turning out to be true.
Bloomberg recently reported that Google and Mastercard have had until now, a secret agreement to share customer’s purchases with each other. In the report, Google is said to have access to the buying records of 70% of debit and credit cards in circulation.
Of course, none of this has been disclosed to Mastercard customers or Google users, or at least not in a way that the average consumer would know, so perhaps it is buried in the pages and pages of the Terms of Service that these companies force their customers to agree to.
Google promised that they used double encryption to hide the personal details of each purchase, but this means nothing. By cross referencing against other data, it is easy for these companies to know the exact name and address of the user almost instantly once they enter the database.
According to the report, Google has already reached out to other payment companies, although it is not known if they have come to any secret agreements as they did with Mastercard, but it would be naive to think they haven’t.
All of this is very reminiscent of when users started complaining that after having conversations near their phone where specific products were mentioned, they would see ads for those products. People suspected their phones were listening to their conversations, something Google (Android) said they don’t do. But then leaked images from a marketing conference showed that companies do in fact listen and record “background noise” even when the phone is not in use. Facebook later confirmed that they are “testing” the practice of recording background noises, although they deny listening for specific words.
Of course, Google claims you can turn off these invasive practices, but the method is convoluted and almost impossible to do easily. Not only that, a recent report showed that Google still tracks you even after you go through the countless steps to turn off the tracking. So there is no way you can believe anything Google claims.
Bloomberg also reports that this deal was 4 years in the making, so I am sure during those 4 years they were also making deals with other companies. This story coming out now doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story. It is very plausible that Google now tracks a wide range of financial history and financial transactions from its users, and many companies other than Mastercard are involved.
As you are well aware, most stores have reward or loyalty programs, most of which are tied to your phone number and therefor your name. Any purchase made with one of these reward cards along with a Mastercard debit or credit card can instantly share you name and purchase with anyone involved in one of these secret deals with Google. So personal data is almost certainly being shared, they are just using a loophole so they can claim they are not.
Either way, this story comes not long after Facebook was reported to be asking for banking information on all of their users. So it seems if its not already the case, it’s only a matter of time before these companies know exactly how much you have in your bank accounts, and how you spend that money.
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