Yes, your phone is spying on you

by | Apr 3, 2020

If you suspect your phone is spying on you, you’re probably right. Google has launched a new website that uses anonymous location data collected from users of Google products and services to show the level of social distancing taking place in various locations.

The COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports website will show population data trends of six categories: Retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential. The idea instead is to outline percentages, which highlight potential surges in attendance.

For public health departments, this kind of data could be helpful in alerting them to the next potential COVID-19 hotspot. It might also be useful in helping public health officials target specific regions with further messaging about the importance of staying six feet apart or close parks where residents are routinely disregarding the rules.

What’s the source of the data? The data is anonymous and sourced from smartphones that are sharing their location data with Google. Of course, if you’d rather not share your location (can’t blame ya), you can always turn off location services in Google’s settings.

But if there ever was a time when Google’s location tracking abilities could come in handy, it’s now. The novel coronavirus pandemic can only be fought with strict social distancing measures. Google is harnessing its data powers for good by alerting local governments if their social distancing orders are not being followed. Stay 6 feet apart everybody, Google is watching.

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