Google reads your emails to send you better ads, but the company added another thing it looks for in your inbox — your bills. This week, Google started promoting its new mobile app feature which reminds users when they need to pay their bills based on emailed bill statements, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Customers can cue up a list of their upcoming bills and how much they owe by asking “Show me my bills,” the Internet giant explained on its Google Plus page. The feature is only available through the Google Now feature, which acts as a virtual butler, delivering useful tidbits like how far you’ve walked today or what sites to see on an upcoming vacation based on information Google collects across its different platforms.
The information analyzed by Google Now is “private” and can only be seen or accessed by the user, the company said. But the new feature does raise questions about how much personal information the company is collecting about its users. “Google has so much information about us it can be kind of surprising when they release new things,” said Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C. “It’s just a new way to expose information Google already knows about you in order to make your life more seamless.” But the feature is only for people who go out of their way to use Google Now, which suggests they are aware of the information being gathered and ultimately trust the company.
“The important thing is for customers to have control over what is shared and what is done with their information,” Brookman said. Google collects user data through its search engine, social network, Google Plus, Gmail, and Android software for mobile devices. The company was recently outed with Apple and Microsoft for exploiting a loophole in its privacy policies that allow the company to read and share email contents without legal ramifications. SEE MORE ON PAGE 2