The tech giant Google has spread its roots deep into our technological lives and to be precise our location. Their apps, search engine and other elements surround us. With its omnipresence, Google has managed to store massive amounts of data regarding us. Using this very data, Google recently released a report which details the change in travel patterns due to social distancing across six categories, including Retail & Recreation, Grocery & Pharmacy, Parks, Transit Stations, Workplaces, and Residential. So can it help governments across the world to track the movement of people to track implementation of lockdown? The simple answer is Yes and No.
How does it Work?
Your location history is the location data saved by Google maps. It contains all your travel data and is then converted to a trail. You can switch this feature off by going to your Google Maps settings> Your data in maps> location history> pause location history. In case you have turned on the location, Google, will know about your movement and on governments request it can share that data but if you have switched off it can’t share the data.
What happens after getting data?
After procuring data Google adds random noise to each data set so that it cannot be individually identified or traced back. The problem arises due to the fact that Google is able to break down that very data-based on countries. It leads to further possibility of it being broken down further based on households.
The data in this case public and is useful. It can be accessed by anyone on”Covid-19 Mobility Report.”This entire system leaves us in a dilemma. On the one hand, it’s very useful for acquiring data while on the other hand, it puts our privacy at risk.
Can the Government request Location Data?
Yes, In case the government wants to track the movement of its citizen for keeping everyone safe it can place a request for data but if the users have switched off their location sharing Google will not be able to share the data.