Google Maps shuts down Ukraine’s live traffic feature to protect local users

According to The Verge, due to neighboring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Google temporarily disabled the real-time traffic feature provided by Google Maps in Ukraine to protect the safety of local users.

The feature reportedly shows road traffic jams through anonymous location data collected from Android smartphones. An open source intelligence (OSINT) expert said he saw signs of a Russian incursion after spotting an unusual “traffic jam” on the Ukrainian border on Google Maps early last Thursday.

According to Reuters and Vice, Google said it decided to disable the features after consultation with Ukrainian authorities in a move to protect the safety of local users . The features have been disabled from global access, but Google says real-time traffic information will still be available to drivers using navigation in the region.

According to foreign media The Verge, location data collected by map services often provides unexpected information. In 2017, for example, fitness tracking app Strava released user activity maps that unexpectedly showed the locations of several U.S. military bases, showing soldiers running laps around the airport. Likewise, Snapchat’s geolocation feature was used to collect images and videos from the front lines of the Iraq War.

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