Google Maps update: Police won’t be able to track which users were near a crime

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is modifying its Maps tool to cease access to users’ individual location histories, thus in course eliminating its capability to respond to law enforcement warrants seeking location data on everyone near a crime scene.

Google Maps brings Location History update.(Getty Images)

The Maps Timeline feature aids in recollecting visited places and operates through the Location History setting. For users who opt to activate Location History, which is by default off, their Timeline data will soon be stored directly on their device, providing enhanced control over personal data, the tech giant said in a blog post Thursday.

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Similar to the previous setup, users can delete specific information or disable the setting entirely whenever they choose, it added.

With the data being stored on the user’s device, law enforcement’s would not be able to get location information from Google.

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As per a Bloomberg Businessweek report, police in the US frequently request location and search data from Google through warrants, a trend observed even in nonviolent cases and involving individuals unrelated to the crimes at hand.

“Your location information is personal,” said Marlo McGriff, director of product for Google Maps, in the blog post. “We’re committed to keeping it safe, private and in your control.”

Furthermore, upon initially enabling Location History, the default auto-delete control will now be set to three months, automatically removing data older than that. Previously, this option was configured to 18 months.

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If you wish to retain memories on your Timeline for an extended duration, you have the flexibility to adjust the period or deactivate auto-delete controls entirely, Google said.

These updates will be gradually implemented over the next year on Android and iOS, and users will be notified when the changes reach their account.

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