Google to share user location data in a bid to help governments tackle virus spread

Paris: Tech giant Google has announced that it will share user location data with governments around the world to assist them in containing COVID-19 outbreak.

The location of users in 131 countries will be made available and will reflect users’ movement trends over time.

“In Google Maps, we use aggregated, anonymized data showing how busy certain types of places are helping identify when a local business tends to be the most crowded. We have heard from public health officials that this same type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19,” the company stated in a blog post.

According to the tech giant, the data reports will use information from people who have opted in to storing their location history with Google to help illustrate the degree to which people are adhering to government instructions to shelter in place and, where possible, work from home.

Governments around the world have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens’ movements in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, which has infected more than a million people and killed over 50,000 worldwide.

However, activists have raised concerns over authoritarian regimes using such measures to intimidate critics and suppress political dissent.