We always knew that the big dot com monopolies were stockpiling massive amounts of data on their users.
And there was no telling how some of that data was being used. One of the hot theories involved phones eavesdropping on users and generating keywords from conversations to serve ads.
Now we’re seeing a sample of how coordination between governments and Google, the scariest dot com of them all, can work to create a China-like system.
Google is launching a tool that will publicly track people’s movements amid the coronavirus pandemic, allowing health officials to check whether their communities are abiding by social-distancing measures.
The California-based tech giant says it will publish and regularly update the “community mobility reports,” which are broken down by location and display the change in visits to public places such as grocery stores and parks. The tool, announced by the company late Thursday, uses “aggregated, anonymized sets of data” that Google has collected on users, including through Google Maps.
Just in case you didn’t know, any Android phones, any phone containing Google apps, especially Google Maps, is spying on you.
The Community Mobility Reports provide actionable information. They are, for the moment, not individualized, but they make use of your individual information to monitor your community and provide data that will be used to push for actions and crackdowns.
As global communities respond to COVID-19, we’ve heard from public health officials that the same type of aggregated, anonymized insights we use in products such as Google Maps could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.
Government officials. In other words.
Google notes that it’s drawing data from users who have made their location history accessible, and while turning that off may be a start move, there’s no reason to think that Google isn’t drawing data regardless, and making use of it, even if you turn off both data and WiFi.
This is another reminder of the need to break up Google before it gets too blatantly evil.