back to article Google wants to track your phone and credit card through meatspace

Google wants stores to gather purchase data on its behalf, to bolster its case that advertising on the platform works. Lest you fret about the gross invasion of privacy involved, rest assured that the Chocolate Factory promises the info will be anonymised. (Stop laughing, anonymity researchers. We're sure Google means what it …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone know how long Google have had access to this?

    "If not, fear not: Google's signed partners in the financial sector that mean it can see 70 percent of credit card transactions in the US (thankfully, the program's specific to the US at the moment – perhaps because other countries have privacy regimes harder to navigate). As The Consumerist puts it: “your history of ad viewing is still going to be out there, tied to your credit card spending, without a whole lot you can actually do about it”. "

    I love the dystopian future that's already here. It makes me shop less. In turn I can work less! Less stress + owning less stuff = more happiness...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone know how long Google have had access to this?

      Same here AC.

      Being more aware of consumerism as a system has made me passively (and sometimes actively) resistant against it.

      Government can bleat about "consumer confidence" all they want, but I definitely want to make do with less junk in my life, and less tracking while I opt-out.

    2. Doctor_Wibble
      Boffin

      Re: Anyone know how long Google have had access to this?

      A good question - the first warning sign for me was when a secure payment page was slow to load because it was 'waiting for doubleclick', which was very shortly before I started looking at actual blocking of advertiser domains rather than just e.g. not having flash or activex enabled.

      That must have been at least a decade ago, well before google bought them and the magic google whitewash made it all completely not-evil and totally different from those horrible advert people.

      Card purchase data, notification emails, customer loyalty cards, postal addresses... this new(ish) thing is just an explicit link rather than the implicit links they had to infer previously.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      It's a bit of an irony, actually

      Here we were, idly postulating about how evil our governments could become, when it was actually private companies that were working on perfecting the most invasive day-to-day violation of our privacy.

      Sure, the NSA has the ability to look into me, but I will never be greeted at a shop by someone I don't know who will ask me specific questions on how my family is going. Google, on the other hand, will one day have the means to prompt the sales clerk to ask if I like whatever it was that I bought yesterday, or if I'm still using whatever it is I bought last month.

      That is a whole new level of surveillance and I am certain that I will like that even less.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

        "Google, on the other hand, will one day have the means to prompt the sales clerk to ask if I like whatever it was that I bought yesterday, or if I'm still using whatever it is I bought last month."

        At which point the sale would be lost.

        1. PNGuinn
          Go

          At which point the sale would be lost

          And maybe the original item given a few seconds in a microwave - to destroy any microchips, natch.

          And then tested and found not to work.

          And so brought back for a refund.

          No I don't have an email address, or phone for you.

          Do you have ... Sorry, that's personal I can't answer that ...

          Yup, I'll give you may name and address. Mind you, write ALL of it down, lad ... there's 41 letters in my hyphenated firstname alone ....

          Can't read my signature? It's not meant to be legible, lad, grow up.

          Nature of fault - pile of steaming dodo poo ....

          Please put your card ...

          Nope. Paid cash, want grubbies back.

          etc.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

          I was approached by a very attractive lady at the local shopping centre who was with trying to flog one of the credit builder credit cards. I will freely confess that I was dressed a little rough because I had been on a site visit trying to locate cable faults. So after the initial hello and introduction to the brand I explained that I have a very good credit score so she might want to talk to someone else. Nope it's me she wants to talk to and as I'd given her my first name when we first met she asked for my email. I said she was very attractive but things were moving a bit fast for me, what about a drink first maybe when she finished.

          Laughing she replied she wasn't sure her boyfriend would approve of that. What's his Credit score then, is he a safe emotional investment for you? Still laughing she asks what my score is and I get an approving look when I say around 980 out of 1000. I said I was happy to give her an email address but only over a drink. Sadly she declined the offer and we both left the encounter empty handed.

      2. fishman

        Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

        "Here we were, idly postulating about how evil our governments could become, when it was actually private companies that were working on perfecting the most invasive day-to-day violation of our privacy."

        Yes, but Google wants to throw ads at you - your government wants to throw people in jail.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

          > Yes, but Google wants to throw ads at you - your government wants to throw people in jail.

          Don't be surprised if that distinction becomes blurry in the next few years.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

          "Google wants to throw ads at you - your government wants to throw people in jail."

          The way things are going, our government may start throwing bombs at us soon...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

            The way things are going, our government may start throwing bombs at us soon...

            Won't need to. It will just keep inviting people in to do the dirty work.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

        Some of us have been trying to warn people for years and all we got were downvotes.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

          Some of us have been trying to warn people for years and all we got were downvotes.

          Heh, think what some of us Christians feel - for decades warning that mass tracking of your movement was coming, that would be linked to commercial activity, and we got rubbished for it. And yet here we are, what you buy and where you go all handily stored in one easy-to-target1 location. Now it's coming to pass, and worse than some of us expected.

          1 "Target" in this case being legal action by the government (if you watch Continuum you'll see we may reach a point where the corporations are the government), hackers, those who know how to file the right FOI requests...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone know how long Google have had access to this?

      I'm noticing a reappearance of zombie cookies / HSTS exploits also on iOS10.3.x,

      I've collected a bunch of unique identifier trackers from Alphabet wannabe's that are repopulated as soon as they've been erased/cleaned/deleted. I wonder if this permanent ID is connected to the Goooogle credit-card snarfing?

      Apple seem not to be interested, according to the thousand or so who've clicked the 'this-affects-me-too" button on Apple forum.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Anyone know how long Google have had access to this?

        Apple seem not to be interested, according to the thousand or so who've clicked the 'this-affects-me-too" button on Apple forum.

        Got a link to the forum? I know a couple of people who may wish to be more informed of the issue themselves.

  2. Esme

    We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

    Here in the UK some companies are already asking for ones email address at the till. This first happened to me some months ago in Lakeland, but has now happened about a dozen times in various other shops. My response each time is the same - to refuse to give my email address. I'm also increasingly tending to withdraw cash from a cashpoint prior to going shopping, and purchasing with cash, because I strongly object to all this unwanted invasion of privacy.

    I'm getting heartily sick of this corrosive invasion of privacy that's taking a stranglehold on society - even Aunty Beeb is at it, saying they're going to make a sign-in a requirement for use of iPlayer, purportedly to give one a personalised experience which personally, I do not want (I've contacted them to ask what the real reason they intend to insist on a sign-up is, as it's onl'y a bonus to users if it's an optional requirement).

    In my opinion, governments worldwide need to get a grip on this tendency to corporate snooping, and make it absolutely clear to corporations, via legislation, if necessary, that corporations exist to serve society, NOT the other way around. As for Google they can drop dead and die so far as I'm concerned, the unethical shits.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      Using cash? Facial recognition to the rescue. [advert]Take a look at these special offers on facepaint and masks[/advert].

      My e-mail address really is 'root@localhost'. I can prove it: look over my shoulder while I send myself an email.

      If they get this working for me, they will get a list of things I bought, but I did not see the advert because I have javascript turned off. If they invent ads that work without javascript, they will know exactly which products to advertise so they can prove their marketing is effective.

      Got to go - I need to buy a pair of lightspeed briefs.

      1. JLV Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        >purchasing with cash, because I strongly object to all this unwanted invasion of privacy

        Be warned, citizen: only those with something to hide want to remain anonymous. You are now on the double secret probation watchlist!

        1. Hairy Scary
          Big Brother

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          There's one retailer for garden machinery in my area that needs name, address, DOB and phone number for cash sales. When I asked why they told me that since their software was upgraded the till needs that info before processing any sale, be it cash or card! Do they really need all that info just for a simple carb service kit for a lawnmower? I could see the point if I was buying a chainsaw.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            "There's one retailer for garden machinery in my area that needs name, address, DOB and phone number for cash sales."

            If this is in the UK it would appear to contravene the DPA.

          2. Wade Burchette

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            "There's one retailer for garden machinery in my area that needs name, address, DOB and phone number for cash sales."

            If any business did that for any transaction, I would politely make it clear to the employee that I will not give that information and would leave without buying anything. I might even go so far as to find the manager and tell him they lost a sale because of asking too many questions. I would not put anything back, make the employees do it. "Why are we putting this back on the shelf?" "Because a customer refused to provide their personal information."

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            There's one retailer for garden machinery in my area that needs name, address, DOB and phone number for cash sales

            The best answer to that is to use an odd name and DOB and the address of a holiday home in a different country. A French address really mucks the computer systems used in many UK shops.

            1. BA

              Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

              @Ivan 4

              Great idea !

              I'm going to start using the address of my holiday home in Thailand. Good luck to them trying to find the Thai characters on their keyboard.

              :-)

            2. PNGuinn
              Pint

              Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

              Or when $store asks:

              Address: address of $store including postcode.

              Email: Complaints email of $store.

              etc.

              Or: tailored for the uk:

              Long foreign sounding name with LOTS of hyphens and a couple of apostrophies. Feign REAL ANGER if they get them wrong.

              Address: 3 P'siecat Mews, Barking. T4224T.

              Claim the postcode database is wrong if the system won't take it - new estate.

              (For Merkins: there are at least 2 places called Barking in Blighty. )

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      "Here in the UK some companies are already asking for ones email address at the till."

      Me: "jtripper@whitechapel.com"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        some businesses use the excuse 'Do you want our newsletter?' as a way to harvest emails.

        My response is always a firm but polite 'No'.

        I fully expect that soon, I will start hearing 'It is company policy' as an excuse.

        Then we can see a big increase in m.mouse@disney.com and similar fake ones being used.

        I already make more and more purchases using cash just to reduce my tracking profile to a minumum. This especially applies to businesses I have never used before or are part of national chains.

        Adverts are evil. Pure and simple. Anything advertised to me goes on my 'do not buy' list.

        Yes, I am the exception but it makes for a less invaded life. (Adverts invade my personal space)

        yours,

        Grumpy Old Man (paid up with Cash, used notes only)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          "Yes, I am the exception"

          Don't be too sure. You're certainly not alone.

        2. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: 'It is company policy'

          Respond with "Do you want the sale?" Company policy is binding on employees of the company, not customers.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          The current ad showing on El Reg.

          What is the connection between IT people and Corsodyl mouthwash? Is it bleeding edge technology?

          1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            @AC Corsodyl -- yes, I hate these and think I will now switch from Corsodyl to another brand for icking me out.

          2. Kiwi Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            What is the connection between IT people and Corsodyl mouthwash? Is it bleeding edge technology?

            Maybe they think a large proportion of the readership is a bunch of geeks who live in mom's basement and have a poor understanding of the words "personal hygiene"?

        4. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          "Yes, I am the exception but it makes for a less invaded life."

          And you're a "runner" citizen voter. You are one the undesirables they're making more effort to find as you attempt evade the system citizen voter. You will comply citizen! YOU WILL COMPLY OR DIE CITIZEN!

        5. DropBear Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          "Grumpy Old Man (paid up with Cash, used notes only)"

          Following that instinctively with "...in non-sequential bills" in my mind does not make me a bad person! I swear...!

        6. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          I have several email addresses.

          I use one for purchases and a separate one for personal emails.

          Looks like I will need a third one.

        7. tokyo-octopus

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          Then we can see a big increase in m.mouse@disney.com and similar fake ones being used.

          I have a reasonably uncommon Anglo-saxon surname and managed to bag reasonablyuncommonsurname@famousemailprovider.com many years ago, and have noticed an uptick in unsolicited emails from UK retailers ("thank you for your recent purchase") in the last few months (and I don't live in the UK or do business with them).

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        casework@ico.org.uk

        1. Someone Else Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          nimrod@blowme.com

    3. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      If the cashier is pretty: "OK, but give me your telephone number first...." <G>

      If she doesn't call police, maybe will stop asking my email...

      Anyway, I guess I will remove the battery from my phone while shopping (yes, I still look for phones with a removable battery.... the only way you can be sure to kill them, if they don't have another one hidden).

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        Anyway, I guess I will remove the battery from my phone while shopping (yes, I still look for phones with a removable battery.... the only way you can be sure to kill them, if they don't have another one hidden).

        How easy would it be to make a "Faraday Pocket" or "Faraday Phone Case" that blocks such things? (I know what a Faraday cage is and basically how it works, but don't know if things like distance from item to cage is a part of the calculations; to me it's obvious the phone's antenna cannot actually touch the cage, but is very close proximity a problem?)

        Could be something worth designing and giving the design away (would you trust one sold by the very shops who want to track you and whose tracking you want to block?)

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      If "no thanks, I get enough spam as it is" is too difficult to say, how about something like "roger.irrelevant@mailinator.net"?

      That and making sure GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth are off should be enough I would have thought.

    5. ADC
      Big Brother

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      > even Aunty Beeb is at it, saying they're going to make a sign-in a requirement for use of iPlayer, purportedly to give one a personalised experience which personally, I do not want (I've contacted them to ask what the real reason they intend to insist on a sign-up is, as it's onl'y a bonus to users if it's an optional requirement).

      This is preparation for allowing iPlayer access only if you have a TV licence.

      And of course to track your viewing/downloading habits...

      1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        "This is preparation for allowing iPlayer access only if you have a TV licence"

        Do you have a problem with that?

        Whenever I'm asked for an email address that I don't want to give I use [not.today@nothanks.com] weirdly, no one has said anything about it as they write it down but then I doubt the poor till flunky gives a toss one way or the other.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          trouble with providing false e-mail or other data to the bbc is that, I'm pretty sure that buried deep in their terms and conditions, a clause (or ten) about their right to withdraw their service for those who provide false details. Trivially simple to crossreference their database with the post code you are "asked" to provide to register for iplayer experience. All to better serve your individual viewing habits and our customers' identity is of utmost importance to us, etc, etc.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            trouble with providing false e-mail or other data to the bbc is that

            Visit the likes of 10minutemail.com - that way when you gave the address it was a valid working address that you proved you could answer by clicking on the "follow this link to verify your account".

            Failing that, pop off to any freemail provider, create an account (if you need a "current email address" then see above), and give them that address. Never check it again.

            Or check it occasionally, and click the "mark as spam" box for any email from bbc.co.uk. With enough people doing that, it won't take long for spamhaus and other such <insert phrasing of your choice here> organisations to take notice, and for BBC execs to start wondering why emails from them are getting rejected.

            Why do I dislike spamhaus? Because of the crap they pull with new businesses and the hoops they make you jump through just to get email working with your domain, and the lost clients when you can't respond to a customer enquiry. Which has come through hotmail or vodafone addresses (and is about as spammy as you can get, especially as vodafone nz had NO smtp verification whatsoever last time I checked! No password no nothing! (and yes, only SMTP, unencrypted, on port 25)

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          >Whenever I'm asked for an email address that I don't want to give I use [not.today@nothanks.com] weirdly, no one has said anything about it as they write it down but then I doubt the poor till flunky gives a toss one way or the other.<

          The PFY probably gets a good laugh at the more creative ones. Unless they're really good, they'll never cotton on to the phone number I've given them…. Inland Revenue.

      2. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        > This is preparation for allowing iPlayer access only if you have a TV licence.

        Or huge juicy personal detail to show that nice Mr Murdoch when he gets his chequebook out

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        Why can't the Beeb just ask for the TV licence number to register your devices?

      4. cosmogoblin
        Joke

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        It's really simple if you don't want to be profiled. Just use a separate email for each program you watch.

        And, next year, a separate license fee.

    6. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      Here in the UK some companies are already asking for ones email address at the till.

      Maplins did this for about a year fifteen years ago. My response was no@fuckoff.no. Some of the sales staff grinned as they wrote it down, others looked ashamed at what they were required to do.

      Perhaps I should have registered the domain and checked to see if the company still tried to contact me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        Larry.Page@google.com

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