Google Maps app update gives users control of location data

Google Maps announced changes to its Location History feature to allow data to be saved directly to a user’s device or via cloud storage rather than on Google servers.

Via the company’s The Keyword blog, Google said changes to user location data saying “We’re introducing new updates to give you even more control over this important, personal information.”

Google Maps will auto-delete history

The search giant has stated an “auto-delete” timeframe of three months replacing the current timeline of 18 months as a standard. Which is a substantial time jump in how much data can be recorded by default.

Google also announced that location-specific data can be deleted permanently on devices, saying “The ability to delete place-related activity from Maps starts rolling out on Android and iOS in the coming weeks.”

Legal critics speculate data-request-driven decision

Many in the legal world see this update coincide with the requests the company receives for data, known as “Geofence Warrants.”

According to the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers (NACD), “Geofence” requests by law enforcement are used to narrow down possible witnesses and suspects within one location at a set time.

All done via the geographical location recorded via an Android or Apple device.

Google has not publicly stated the volume of information requests by law enforcement for several years, however, this data has been used in active Court of Appeals hearings.

Google’s announcement comes days after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Virginia, heard oral arguments in a case called United States v. Chatrie. The defense challenged the legality of these (Geofence) warrants and their application.

It is still speculation at this point if the update is a wholesome one to give users more control of data or a time-sensitive response from the search giant in the wake of potential landmark cases that relate to geolocation data.

It has been a mixed year for Google Maps with the announcement of a new AI focused update for the popular app. Providing AI simulations of potential journeys and vacations for users.

In more serious news, the escalating conflict in Gaza and Israel called for a restriction of real-time app data in the war zone.

Image Credit: Nastya Sensi, Pexels.

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