Google Maps Turns Off Live Traffic In Ukraine After Russian Invasion Was Visible
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The feature works by taking both location and speed information from smartphones into account, then showing what traffic looks like in real-time in that area.
However, last week, when Vladimir Putin launched the attack on Ukraine, some users realised that Live Traffic can be utilised to see the location of military-based operations, too.
For example, an open-source intelligence expert and lecturer at Middlebury Institute previously spotted a traffic jam at 3.15 am in Belgorod, Russia, using the feature on Google Maps.
According @googlemaps, there is a "traffic jam" at 3:15 in the morning on the road from Belgorod, Russia to the Ukrainian border. It starts *exactly* where we saw a Russian formation of armor and IFV/APCs show up yesterday.— Dr. Jeffrey Lewis (@ArmsControlWonk) February 24, 2022
Someone's on the move. pic.twitter.com/BYyc5YZsWL
He took to Twitter to share the shocking data, writing: “Someone’s on the move.”
The traffic jam which Lewis saw on the app was in a different area of Ukraine, just north of Kharkiv, and eventually extended to the border before it disappeared, he noted on the social media platform.
Lewis told Motherboard about the situation: “I think big data companies often don’t want to face squarely how useful their data can be.
“I mean, it’s cool when we do it, right? It’s maybe less cool if the Russians were able to do something similar to, you know, spotting an offensive from Ukrainians.”
Google has recently confirmed to VICE World News that they’ve since temporarily disabled the traffic-tracking feature on the app for users in Ukraine, however, it is unclear when exactly they took the measures.
The news site reported that Google “had taken the action for the safety of local Ukrainian communities following consultations with sources including regional authorities.”
LADbible have contacted Google for a comment on the matter.