Google knows where you're using your credit and debit cards

Google sign.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Google now knows how your shopping habits in the "real world" correspond with the ads you interact with online. The advertising giant is teaming up with credit and debit card companies to "match up in-store purchases with your online identity," CNN reports.

The credit card companies provide Google with encrypted information about purchases, which Google software then compares to Google profiles of people who viewed relevant ads. Google cannot actually see any of the encrypted data, so it does not have access to identifiable payment information, like the person's name or what they bought.The matches are tallied up in aggregate to protect privacy. That means Google can tell a restaurant their ads resulted in 1,000 people going there to eat and how much they spent, but not share any personal information about individual diners. [CNN]

"The privacy implications of this are pretty massive, so Google needs to tread very carefully," San Diego State University marketing professor Miro Copic told the Los Angeles Times. The massive partnership between Google and the card companies will account for 70 percent of all debit or credit card purchases in the country.

You can get around Google tracking your IRL purchases, but it isn't exactly easy: You would have to either log out of your Google account before searching anything, or turn off your search history. CNN also suggests using "cash," like some sort of caveman, "to buy your frosty and fries."

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.