Google has shut down a service that allowed mobile operators to see where they had issues with coverage and service because of data privacy concerns.
Google launched Mobile Network Insights was launched back in 2017 and used anonymised, aggregated data from Android users to create coverage maps that were used by operators to prioritise network expansions and upgrades.
Although data could not be linked to an individual account or device, and users had to opt in to sharing their location and usage data with Google, the company feared growing scrutiny from both regulators and consumers on matters of privacy.
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Google Mobile Network Insights
According to Reuters, operators were not given a reason for the closure. Given the majority of smartphones worldwide are powered by Android, it would have been a valuable resource when making network decisions.
Other services, such as OpenSignal and RootMetrics, also provide independent data on how a network behaves in both a real-life situation and in controlled testing. Operators also conduct significant in-house testing.
Google confirmed to the news agency that Mobile Network Insights was being mothballed but did not elaborate on the reasons why.
The introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May last year dramatically improves the rights and protections of individuals when it comes to data collection and processing. It also places new obligations on organisations, with hefty penalties for non-compliance.
Meanwhile, several high-profile data breaches and scandals have also brought the issue to prominence.
Google has improved the privacy protections in Android and in its search engine in order to reassure users that it takes the matter seriously. However the challenges around data are significant for organisations that rely on the collection and analysis of this information to drive revenues.