June 30, 2022

TheCyberThrone

Thinking Security ! Always

Google Shuts Down Live Map Feature in Ukraine amid Crisis

Russia invaded Ukraine,starting the war that many people feared. The Ukrainian resistance has been exemplary, with the country putting up a massive fight against the invading force. The entire world took notice, urging Russia to stop the attack and withdraw. Western countries imposed sanctions against Russia and sent weapons, battle gear, and supplies to Ukraine’s aid. Google has just shut down the Google Maps live traffic features that so many users love.

The Google Maps feature helps users determine the best route to their destination, and it’s the kind of intelligent navigation feature. However, in the case of the Russia-Ukraine war, the feature can be abused and put people in danger. As a result, Google shut it down to protect the citizens of Ukraine.

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The Google Maps live traffic feature incorporates live information from drivers to determine traffic conditions in real-time. The iPhone or Android phone you’re using to navigate to your destination pings Google’s servers, and Google’s algorithms then issue appropriate guidance.

A birds-eye view at any map in Google Maps will tell how busy an area is. The information is also available as you navigate to your destination.

The Russia-Ukraine war highlighted an obvious problem with Google Maps live traffic. The Google Maps live traffic information told him a massive traffic jam was in progress. The Google data did not necessarily come from Russian soldiers who forgot to turn off their smartphones.

Instead, other people stuck in traffic might be the reason Google Maps knew about the traffic delays. And the invasion was underway in a different region of Ukraine than the Donbas.

Nearly two days later, the Russians were conducting their first unsuccessful assaults on the capital. That’s when people observed that Google Maps live traffic data might have indicated the main advance into the city.

Given that the Russian attack happened at night and Kyiv has curfews in place, most of the data could have come from soldiers in the field.

Despite the scary air raids and missile strikes, the Ukrainian army has been able to repel the Russian attacks on Kyiv for several nights. It’s unclear if live traffic data from apps like Google Maps helped either side. But the armies involved in the conflict likely have access to more sophisticated information from the battlefield. That includes satellite and drone imagery.

Google consulted with sources like the regional authorities in Ukraine. It decided to turn off the Google Maps live traffic feature for Ukraine. That means you can’t see live traffic information from outside Ukraine right now by just bringing the country into view on a smartphone or tablet.

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Google is also killing Google Maps Live Busyness, which will no longer inform people how busy a store might be. This should also help protect the Ukrainian citizens as they go out during the day to shop for food or move around the country for other purposes.

Google Maps aside, Google has taken additional steps against Russia following the invasion. Google decided not to allow Russian state media to run ads on YouTube and Google. It also appears to have blocked access to Russian state media’s YouTube channel in Ukraine.

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