Google has temporarily disabled its Maps traffic data features in Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, to protect users’ safety. The company released a statement saying that it is committed to helping “keep people safe and informed” during the crisis.
Google Maps uses anonymous location data collected from Android smartphones to show where there are traffic delays on roads and which businesses and stores are busy. OSINT experts say such data could offer insight into the progress of the invasion.
Google Disables Maps Live Traffic Tools
Google has confirmed that it has temporarily disabled some Google Maps tools in Ukraine, which provide live traffic information and how busy different places are – Reuters report.
Google announced that it had disabled Maps’ traffic layer and live data on how busy places like stores and restaurants are in Ukraine for the safety of local communities in the country.
The popular mapping technology has been used by many people to track the Russian military advances into the Crimean peninsula.
An open-source intelligence (OSINT) expert told Reuters that he first spotted signs of the Russian invasion early last Thursday after seeing unusual “traffic jams” at the Ukrainian border on Google Maps.
Google said in a statement: “We’re concerned about the safety and security of our users, so we’ve temporarily disabled some of our Google Maps features in Ukraine.”
This is not the first time that Google has had to disable certain mapping tools because of political unrest or conflict – following protests in Egypt in 2011, for example, Google removed its Street View feature from parts of Cairo.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Google to re-enable these features in Ukraine – and what, if any, impact this will have on the ongoing conflict.