Google has just disabled real-time traffic data on Maps in Ukraine. According to the statements of the Mountain View firm, this measure was taken to guarantee the safety of users of the mapping service in the country, currently annexed by the Russian army.
Google in turn is committed to protecting Ukrainian users from the Russian invasion. In effect, the Mountain View company has just announced the temporary deactivation real-time traffic data. These functions use anonymous location data collected on Android smartphones to indicate various information, such as disturbances on the roads or the frequentation of a store or public transport.
After consultation with local authorities, Google Maps has taken the decision to delete this data to protect Ukrainian users from a possible tracing of this data by the Russian army. More specifically, this information could be used by Vladimir Putin’s troops to anticipate population movements, for example.
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Google Maps disables data to protect Ukrainians
An OSINT (Original Open Source Intelligence) researcher explains that he saw signs of the Russian invasion last Thursday after precisely spotting “traffic jam” unusual at the Ukrainian border on Google Maps. “I think we were the first people to see the invasion. And we saw it in a traffic app,” assures Professor Jerry Lewis of the Middlebury Institute.
In addition, Google adds that it also suspends the dissemination of data on visits to public places, such as shops, restaurants or public parks, always with the aim of protecting Ukrainian populations. Either way, this is a smart move on Google’s part. In the past, it has happened that applications deliver unexpected location information.
Launched in 2017, the Strava fitness app offered a map of user activity. However, it turns out that she accidentally revealed the location of several American military bases, revealing the routes taken by the soldiers around the airfields. As a reminder, many companies have already committed to help Ukraine. This is the case of several French operators such as Free, SFR and Orange who have lowered the prices of calls to the country. Or Tesla, which opened the Supercharger network free of charge at the Ukrainian borders.
Source: The Verge