Google reportedly made a secret partnership with Mastercard in the U.S. to check whether its ads converted to a sale at a physical store or not. It paid Mastercard millions of dollars for the deal to access almost two billion Mastercard card-holders’ data. Citing unidentified people with knowledge of the deal, Bloomberg notes that select Google advertisers in the past year have had access to a tool that tracks whether whatever ads they ran online led to a sale at a physical store in the U.S.
The deal raises privacy concerns about how much consumer data is being taken without consent. Essentially, it gave Google an unprecedented asset for measuring retail spending, said report. The business partnership reportedly took about four years of negotiations, but Google never announced it publicly. There were apparently four people with knowledge of the deal and out of them three worked directly on it. It is also suggested that Google discussed sharing a portion of the ad revenue with the companies, however, a Google spokeswoman declined the reports of revenue sharing agreement with its partners.
Addressing the ads tool, the Google spokeswoman in a statement told Bloomberg, “Before we launched this beta product last year, we built a new, double-blind encryption technology that prevents both Google and our partners from viewing our respective users’ personally identifiable information.”
“We do not have access to any personal information from our partners’ credit and debit cards, nor do we share any personal information with our partners,” added the statement. While these reports need an explanation from Google and even further investigation from government agencies, one thing quite clear is that data privacy in this digital age is at utmost risk.