I assumed that the main issue with Google releasing its own stand-alone maps app onto iOS devices would be between the developer and Apple themselves. After all, Apple decided to make its own maps app, after it grew tired of turning to Google for assistance. So it would only make sense that Apple w0uld be apprehensive about letting one of its rivals release an app onto its own marketplace, specifically after Apple’s own recent maps debacle. So you can imagine how shocked the general public was that Google successfully ported its own maps app to the App Store last Wednesday.
So if Apple isn’t causing problems for Google, what is? As it turns out, European laws might be the first major speed bump that the developer faces. According to reports, Google Maps for iOS directly violates European privacy laws, because it allows users to share location information by default. This means that whenever you turn on the application, it is automatically tracking your location information and saving it for sharing. You have to turn off the feature yourself, if you don’t want the application to track you. It’s not necessarily THAT big of a deal, and the app even warns you as soon as you open it, greeting you with the following message;
“Help us improve Google, including traffic and other services. Anonymous location data will be collected by Google’s location service and sent to Google, and may be stored on your device.”
You can even opt out immediately by un-checking an “agree” box that is located at the end of the message. So what exactly is the problem then? The issue is that the box to accept this collection service is checked by default, and that is, as it turns out, a direct violation of the data collection privacy laws that are currently being enacted in Europe. But the main issue may be stemming from Google’s use of the word “Anonymous.” According to Marit Hansen of the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection, “All available information points to having linkable identifiers per user.” In short, Ms. Hansen doesn’t believe that Google’s definition of anonymous is guaranteeing individuals complete anonymity.
This isn’t the first time that data and location collection services have been under scrutiny. Both Apple and Google have been in questionable situations before, pertaining to the tracking of individuals’ locations and the security of their privacy. But is this issue really enough to derail Google Maps for iOS, specifically in Europe? Or do you think that this is a very frivolous matter? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Photo Credit: Google