Is your privacy at risk? Google is tracking your movements amid coronavirus pandemic
Privacy is dead! As part of its effort to show the level of social distancing taking place in various locations, tech giant Google announced the launch of a new website that uses anonymous location data collected from users of Google products and services. However, the collection of users’ location data renew privacy concerns over how the search giant collects information about users’ locations.
According to the information on the site, the COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports aim to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combating COVID-19. The reports chart movement trends over time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential.
Each Community Mobility Report is broken down by location and displays the change in visits to places like grocery stores and parks. Google said it is working to add more countries, regions and languages in the coming weeks.
The data will track changes over the course of several weeks, and as recent as 48-to-72 hours prior, and will initially cover 131 countries as well as individual counties within certain states. Google says the data will be collected in aggregate, rather than at an individual level, and it won’t show absolute numbers of people showing up at parks or grocery stores. The idea instead is to outline percentages, which highlight potential surges in attendance.
For example, its first reports states that San Francisco County has seen a 72% drop in retail and recreation, a 55% decline in parks’ population, and a 21% increase in residential population between Feb. 16 and March 29.