The total surveillance that dystopian writers feared so much is a phenomenon that accompanies us everywhere today. If you have a smartphone, you can be sure that it has not spared you either. Access points Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS – all these and many other interfaces allow corporations dozens of times a minute to record your location, the direction of your movement, and even the people you unwittingly encounter are not paying no attention to it. Of course, most of this data is stored on closed servers, but some of it can still be obtained.
Downloading data from Google Maps is easier than it sounds
Few people know that Google, despite being considered the main spy corporation, allows users to query a hefty array of data about their movements. This is the information that Google Maps captures during operation, collecting information about the places you visit most often, how long you get to them, how much time you spend there, and much more. Google may not really want to share this data, but the law obliges it to do so. So why not.
How to see your movements in Google
- Follow this link to the web version of Google Maps;
- Open the context menu on the left and select 'Your data on Maps';
Google Maps allows you to download data about your movements
- Scroll down the list of available options and click 'Download data from Maps';
- Select the data you want to download and click 'Next';
The archive with data is formed from several minutes to several days
- Select the file type, maximum size and method of obtaining information;
- Confirm the request and wait for Google to process it and send you the result.
If there is a lot of data – and you choose their volume yourself – the preparation of the final package with information can take from several hours to several days. The fact is that Google will have to analyze the entire array of data that Google Maps has accumulated about you, extract the ones that you requested from them, convert them into a readable format and send them to you. However, in my case, the preparation took less than a minute, because even in the middle of this paragraph, I received a letter in the mail with a link to download.
Why Google is following us
Google Maps predicts traffic jams before they appear
If you do not want to download files from Google Maps, on the page with your data, you can configure the behavior of the maps. Here you can change your home address, disable saving history of all your locations, and even delete what has already accumulated. This is a very handy feature, considering how zealous some users are about their own privacy, being sure that everyone is watching them. In principle, this is true, but this surveillance is needed not at all because Google is interested in your personality.
Surveillance helps in training Google services and the algorithms they operate on. By receiving information about your places of stay, Google Maps can more efficiently build your routes, recommend specific places that you would be convenient to visit, and – what is really there – predict the formation of traffic jams. After all, if the cards know that every evening at 6 o'clock you and thousands of others like you will go home, they will be able to predict in advance which sections of the road will have heavy traffic, and which ones will not.