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Google Maps shifts to local drive for location data storage

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Google plans to switch to storing Google Maps location data on users’ devices locally instead of on its cloud servers by December 1, 2024. This move aims to enhance user privacy and security.

The upcoming change will require users to save their travel histories to their mobile devices before the older data resets. This data, previously managed under the name ‘Timeline’ (formerly known as Location History), meticulously tracks users’ routes and tips based on their device’s location, enabling them to review their past movements.

The key shift lies in decoupling this location data from users’ Google accounts, now directly linking it to the devices they use.

Google initially disclosed this transition in December 2023 as part of its intensified focus on safeguarding user privacy.

“Since the data shown on your Timeline comes directly from your device, Timeline won’t be available on Maps on your computer after your data is moved to your phone,” explained Google.

The move aims to further enhance user privacy and security.

Notably, the company had already commenced removing sensitive locations like abortion clinics, domestic violence shelters, and weight loss centres from location history, notes The Verge.

Furthermore, Maps received updates to deter unauthorised access to location history by authorities.

As the transition progresses, users will lose the ability to access their timeline via web browsers in December. Those who fail to activate the new Timeline settings by the deadline will have their last 90 days of travel history moved to their primary Google-signed device, with older data slated for deletion.

To retain access to Timeline features, users must take action within Google Maps on their mobile devices. Users can retain location data indefinitely by navigating to their profile picture and selecting Your Timeline or opt for automatic deletion after predefined intervals of three, 18, or 36 months. This move ensures that desired information remains stored securely on users’ devices.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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