To avoid criticism from users and investigation from regulators, Google has shut down a service to carriers in which it collected network data from Android smartphone users and offered them on a map to carriers which allowed them to see weak spots in their network coverage.
The service was available for all mobile network carriers across the globe.
The move has left carriers disappointed since they used to rely on it to help improve their network coverage. The data shared by Google was completely anonymous yet it has decided to shut the service down so as to not become the subject of unwanted investigations from regulators.
Dubbed Google Mobile Network Insights, the service was launched by Google in March 2017. It provided carriers with a map and data of their signal strength and speed in each area. It was provided free of cost by Google. This was an invaluable source of information for carriers and Google offering it to free further made it act like a cherry on top.
Google respected a user’s privacy as a part of this program and only collected relevant data from users if they shared their location history and diagnostics with it. On top of that, the company made sure to anonymize data to protect their identity.
Google spokeswoman Victoria Keough confirmed the move but declined to elaborate, saying only that changing “product priorities” were behind it. Google’s notice to carriers when it shut down the service did not specify a reason, two of the four people told Reuters.
“We worked on a program to help mobile partners improve their networks through aggregated and anonymized performance metrics,” Keough said. “We remain committed to improving network performance across our apps and services for users.”
This move from Google comes at a time when Apple, Facebook, and other tech giants are under scrutiny from regulators for collecting user data without proper authorization and breaching their trust and privacy. In the wake of current circumstances, Google decided it was better to shut this service down instead of risking to come under the radar of a regulatory body for data collection.