Google Not So Subtly Tracking Everyone During Covid-19 Panic


My Maps on Google has been utilized to track and publish reports based off data collected from “movement trends over time,” according to Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports.

It was already widely understood that our cell phones track where we go, but during the panic of COVID-19 this mobility report breaks down just how closely your phone pays attention to your movement.

Facebook and Google have also both made their GPS data available from users who leave location services turned on.

According to Google, the Community Mobility Report takes locations and displays and change in visitation to retail, recreation, grocery, and pharmacy.

The Google Mobility Report details the purpose of tracking peoples movement and publishing a report during nation wide lockdowns in place for social distancing and “flattening the curve.”

“The reports chart movement trends over time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential,” according to Google.

These mobility reports are intended to inform how we reenter society and help restructure the way we live including when stores are open and when public transportation should run based off of the data that is gathered from Google’s mobility tracking tool.

Mobility data that has been acquired by government officials from Google and Facebook has been utilized to make choice in policy. In Tennessee data released by Unacast lead Governor Bill Lee to issue stay-at-home orders.

Mobility tracking is being utilized further to follow the pattern of COVID-19 spread. The tracking tool allows scientists to try to understand how and where the disease spread as well as how much traffic has fluctuated over the last few weeks.

Public heath researchers who now have access to this mobility tracking data are utilizing the patters of traffic to understand and predict the future spread of COVID-19. Other than the example in Tennessee, many State Government officials have used this data to make decisions about social distancing policies.