Google's Covid-19 reports use location data to show which regions are obeying stay-at-home...

midian182

Posts: 6,184   +51
Staff member

In its Covid-19 Community Mobility Reports, Google uses anonymized data from users in 131 countries—some regions show state and county—to show their movement trends. “No personally identifiable information will be made available at any point,” said the company.

The information covers six categories: Retail and recreation (restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, etc.), Grocery & pharmacy (grocery markets, food warehouses, drug stores, etc.), Parks, (public beaches, marinas, etc.) transit stations, workplaces and residences. Google says the information covers the past several weeks up to until the last 48 to 72 hours.

"As global communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasing emphasis on public health strategies, like social distancing measures, to slow the rate of transmission," wrote Google Geo SVP Jen Fitzpatrick. "In Google Maps, we use aggregated, anonymized data showing how busy certain types of places are—helping identify when a local business tends to be the most crowded. We have heard from public health officials that this same type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19."

While the reports are designed primarily to help public health officials, anyone can access them by selecting a country and downloading the PDF.

In New York, which has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19, movement to retail and recreation is down 62 percent, while transit station mobility is down 68 percent.

We heard earlier this month that the US government could work with tech firms to track the spread of Covid-19 using phone location data, and it was later revealed that this movement would be tracked using data collected from mobile ads. We’ve also heard that controversial firm NSO Group is making spyware that tracks and predicts the spread of the virus. Governments from several other countries, including India, Taiwan, and Singapore, are also using location data to monitor novel coronavirus infections.

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I couldn't work out why Google kept recording where I had gone in the background without my consent... it's so they can do stuff like that. Illegal recording under the guise of public good. Sounds familiar.
 

pit1209

Posts: 138   +222
I couldn't work out why Google kept recording where I had gone in the background without my consent... it's so they can do stuff like that. Illegal recording under the guise of public good. Sounds familiar.
It is not illegal if you accept the agreement, use all of Google products and keep your location option active on your smartphone, it is basically you giving them the information.
 

trparky

Posts: 837   +836
I couldn't work out why Google kept recording where I had gone in the background without my consent... it's so they can do stuff like that. Illegal recording under the guise of public good. Sounds familiar.
Yet as long as the data is completely anonymized, I don't see a problem. It's nothing more than metadata at that point which is completely harmless.
 

Yynxs

Posts: 544   +184
TechSpot Elite
U
Yet as long as the data is completely anonymized, I don't see a problem. It's nothing more than metadata at that point which is completely harmless.
Unless you buy and unlimited fund an entire company dedicated to matching metadata with credit cards and location data. Of course, Google would never do that and the government would never ask for it and and...

"Raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens..."
 
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cfbcfbcfb

Posts: 28   +17
I couldn't work out why Google kept recording where I had gone in the background without my consent... it's so they can do stuff like that. Illegal recording under the guise of public good. Sounds familiar.
Well to be fair "show me restaurants near me" wouldn't do much without a location. You can turn it off. However a ton of useful stuff stops working if you do. It can also be kinda useful, like when my ex-wife told me she was going to the gym and was going to her boyfriends house instead. She didn't know her phone tracked everywhere she went.
 

trparky

Posts: 837   +836
U
Unless you buy and unlimited fund an entire company dedicated to matching metadata with credit cards and location data. Of course, Google would never do that and the government would never ask for it and and...

"Raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens..."
Now you’re going full paranoid here. Is there something you don’t want someone else to know that you’re doing? Because as a law abiding citizen you shouldn’t have an issue.

Besides, there are laws that are in place to protect you. You just need to know your rights and how to exercise them. You have the right to an attorney if and when something does come up and they can’t take that right away from you, it is part of the US Bill of Rights.

I have a friend who’s a police officer specifically a forensic officer, the level of red tape that he has to get through to even start to get a search warrant will make your head spin. They can’t do a damn thing to you unless they have a search warrant and they don’t exactly hand them out like candy. I’ve known this guy for years.
 

Yynxs

Posts: 544   +184
TechSpot Elite
Now you’re going full paranoid here. Is there something you don’t want someone else to know that you’re doing? Because as a law abiding citizen you shouldn’t have an issue.

Besides, there are laws that are in place to protect you. You just need to know your rights and how to exercise them. You have the right to an attorney if and when something does come up and they can’t take that right away from you, it is part of the US Bill of Rights.

I have a friend who’s a police officer specifically a forensic officer, the level of red tape that he has to get through to even start to get a search warrant will make your head spin. They can’t do a damn thing to you unless they have a search warrant and they don’t exactly hand them out like candy. I’ve known this guy for years.
Privacy and paranoia are not the same, no matter what Google and company tell you. As a law abiding citizen with a Constitution that defines my rights, including as a Supreme Court decision, the right to privacy. My privacy is mine. Neither you nor google nor the police get to define it as criminal or suspicious because I wish to maintain it.

I've been military. I know what it is to have no privacy and truly appreciate privacy now I'm outside. In a non-google subsidized world, the right to go where I want when I want without violating any laws and not be tracked or recorded would be protected. I remember when it was. That's why they cleared the streets when they made movies and had to get people's permission if they were accidentally filmed. It wasn't just for residuals. People believed they should be left alone on the streets.

Yes I have a right to an attorney, and the right to a good attorney if I can afford one. You should remember those words carefully when you quote rights.

The forensic officer's steps to attempt to gather evidence to indict a criminal act is a different case entirely from Google's collection and requiring my asking for permission to remove data about me I didn't agree for them to collect in the first place. I don't know why you don't get that but as the Muppets said: some-people.png
 

trparky

Posts: 837   +836
Some people believe that a police state is coming. As long as the Constitution lives, we won’t have one.
 
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Yynxs

Posts: 544   +184
TechSpot Elite
Some people believe that a police state is coming. As long as the Constitution lives, we won’t have one.
The Constitution In its present form. I remember another reason from history and attributed to Yamamoto
.
You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.

Of course the quote is disputed. No antigun movement can dispute a foreign enemy's assessment and attempt todisarm the populace. Whether true or not it remains the reason the Constitution stays paramount.

Another 'disputed' quote by Yamamoto: I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

The same may be said of the people now realizing what Google, et al. have been doing. We'll see.
 

Mister_K

Posts: 1,979   +632
Some people believe that a police state is coming. As long as the Constitution lives, we won’t have one.
Your constitution is pretty much an illusion. Goes same for the whole globe. On the outer layer of society everything is open and "free" however, deep down, we are all limited. Not exactly a bad thing.

Problem with Google is, while I love them and what they provide, how far will it get? Once space is accessible it will be commercialised to **** and ran by corporations. Utopias are imaginary, Dystopias, not a far reach...