Google and Mastercard

Did you hear about the partnership between Google and MasterCard? The online search and advertising giant is working with the credit card company to connect offline purchases to online browsing in a move that would significantly bolster the Google Adwords advertising platform.

A recent Bloomberg article detailed how Google has paid million of dollars for access to Mastercard’s customer data, including the time and location of their purchases.

While Google’s service, called “Store Sales Management” has the potential to benefit advertisers and bolster Google’s already-dominant position in the field of online advertising, privacy advocates are apprehensive. Christine Bannan, a counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center criticized the program, saying “[p]eople don’t expect what they buy physically in a store to be linked to what they are buying online.”

Google maintains that consumer privacy is protected, and maintained: “[w]e 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.” They went on to add that customers had the ability to opt out of the service.

Google has consistently been at the center of controversies regarding their user data, most recently for continuing to track Android users’ locations regardless of whether or not they had opted out, a move which has prompted at least one lawsuit.

See the original story on Bloomberg here.