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Google Making Maps Location History Private, Even from Police

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Dec 15, 2023, 11:38 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is changing how Maps stores your location history, moving it on-device by default and encrypting it when saved to the cloud. This change means even Google can't access that data, which also means Google will no longer be able to respond to "geo-fence" warrants from police wanting to know who was in a given area at a given time. Other companies — notably, mobile network operators — may still have customer location data that can be compelled by police, but Google Maps will no longer be a source of this information. Maps already offers a variety of options giving users control over their location data in its Timeline feature. Users can delete all history and set an auto-delete time period. Timeline is off by default, and when activated, now defaults to keeping only three months of data instead of 18. A new feature will let users delete data for specific locations. Users will be able to manually upload an encrypted copy of their location history to the cloud to preserve that data when switching devices; but otherwise it will stay on-device. The changes will apply to both Android and iOS versions of Maps. Users will see a notice in the app when the change reaches their account.


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