Google has announced that it will alter the way it stores users’ location histories. Moving away from its long-standing practice of storing this data on servers, Google will now save location history directly on users’ devices, as revealed in a recent press release.
Previously, Google Maps’ location data was encrypted and stored on Google’s servers. However, in certain legal scenarios, this data could be accessed by authorities through court orders. With the new policy, Google will no longer have access to this data, thereby eliminating the possibility of sharing it with any external parties.
The use of location history on Google Maps, while optional, offers several benefits, such as personalized recommendations. However, concerns have been raised in various countries about the potential misuse of location data by government authorities. Google’s new approach aims to address these privacy concerns.
The process of transferring location data between devices will also see a change. Users who switch devices will need to upload their location data to Google. This data will be encrypted in a manner that prevents even Google from decrypting it, ensuring an additional layer of security.
Despite Google’s efforts to enhance privacy, there have been reports of inconsistencies. The Washington Post highlighted issues in Google’s system for automatically excluding sensitive locations from users’ location histories. In response, Google is introducing a feature that allows users to manually delete specific locations and related data from their history in Maps.
Furthermore, Google is shortening the duration for automatic location data deletion. If this feature is activated, the data will now be deleted after three months instead of the previous 18 months. This update, along with the new data storage method, is expected to be rolled out to users gradually over the next year. Google will notify users as these features become available.