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According to Bloomberg, this deal was finally brokered between the two companies after four years of negotiation.

But the deal could raise broader privacy concerns about how much consumer data technology companies such as Google quietly absorb.

"People don't expect what they buy physically in a store to be linked to what they are buying online", she said. To do that, Google paid millions of dollars to amass Mastercard transactions data without the two companies alerting the hundreds of millions of Mastercard cardholders around the world. They might browse around for a while, but won't actually buy anything.

LAWYER CHRISTINE BANNAN at the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

In response, a Google spokeswoman gave a statement to Bloomberg, "Before we launched this beta product a year ago, we built a new, double-blind encryption technology that prevents both Google and our partners from viewing our respective users' personally identifiable information".

The report stated that chief of Google's advertising division, Sridhar Ramaswamy, first introduced the product in a blog post but made no mention of its deal with Mastercard in it.

Google in pitching the solution to advertisers said there is no costly integrations or time-consuming setup on their end and that they don't need to share any customer information.

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Mastercard pointed out merchants must give permission for this data to be shared, with a spokesman stating, "No individual transaction or personal data is provided ..." This allowed it to accurately track whether its online ads have been effective at influencing purchase decisions.

Last year, Google announced the Store Sales Measurement service, through which Google said it collected approximately 70 per cent of USA credit and debit card transactions through third-party partnerships, without saying who those partnerships were with. That 70 per cent could mean it has deals with other credit card firms, totalling 70 per cent of the people who use credit and debit cards.

According to Bloomberg, the process begins with a customer who's logged into a Google account clicking on an ad for a certain item without purchasing it.

Purchases made on Mastercard-brand cards accounted for around a quarter of U.S. volumes a year ago, according to the financial research firm Nilson Report. A part of the solution matches clicks with purchases in offline stores, made with debit or credit cards. The company will then tell the advertiser that the item was purchased in a store, although Google and Mastercard say the data is anonymous in order to protect personal identities.

The existence of a secret agreement between Google and Mastercard said the investigative Agency Bloomberg.

It works like this: a person searches for "red lipstick" on Google, clicks on an ad, surfs the web but doesn't buy anything.