Following the invasion by Russia, similar decisions were made in Ukraine.
Both Google Maps and Waze have temporarily halted live traffic updates for specific regions in Israel and the Gaza Strip upon the Israeli military’s request, as reported by Bloomberg. This action was taken in anticipation of a possible ground invasion, prioritizing the safety of the local residents.
A spokesperson from Google conveyed to Gizmodo, “In line with our past actions during conflicts and due to the ongoing situation in the area, we have decided to suspend the live traffic and crowd density features to ensure the safety of the local people.”
The live traffic data can inadvertently provide insights into troop locations or large gatherings of people. This feature collates anonymous location information to indicate traffic congestions. Notably, in the previous year, Google had deactivated the live traffic feature in Ukraine to safeguard its residents during the invasion by Russian troops.
At the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, residents were able to observe the Russian advancement using Google Maps even before its official announcement by Vladimir Putin, as highlighted in a report by Motherboard. An expert in open-source intelligence (OSINT) and an academic identified a traffic bottleneck in Russia via the live traffic feature on Google Maps.
For those accessing Waze in the impacted areas of Israel and Gaza, they are greeted with a notification stating, “Owing to the current security conditions: Updates on other drivers, traffic congestions, and additional alerts will not be showcased” as mentioned in a report by 9to5Google. While Waze seems to operate unhindered in other Israeli regions like Tel Aviv, Google Maps has suspended live traffic updates throughout the country.