Google Maps data may be handed to UK government to monitor whether Brits are staying home during lockdown

GOOGLE Maps may soon help Downing Street track whether you're staying at home during lockdown.

The US company admitted it has discussed plans for the scheme with the UK government in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

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More than a billion users access Google Maps around the world every month, and most people's phones constantly report their location back to the firm's servers.

UK officials hope to use this data to determine whether people are following lockdown laws put in place earlier this month, reports The Times.

Under the new laws, Brits must stay at home if at all possible and only venture out to buy food or for health reasons, or for work if you cannot work from home.

It's hoped the drastic measures will slow the spread of Covid-19, the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Anonymised data from Google could show if people have been respecting the government's instructions to stay home.

That means the information would be used to study the general movements of the population rather than to pick out and punish individuals.

A Google spokesperson told The Times the company had been looking at ways to track the impact of social distancing with its data.

They added that the practice was “similar to the way we show popular restaurant times and traffic patterns in Google Maps.”

Normally, that sort of data allows the California tech titan to estimate how busy certain places are compared to normal.

It does that by tracking and compiling the GPS locations of thousands of people at once to show how popular locations are at certain times.

Google stressed it hadn’t yet shared any data with authorities.

The search giant is not the only tech firm offering up people's data to the government.

Last week, mobile network O2 confirmed it was in discussions with the government about using its mobile technology to predict the spread of coronavirus.

BT, which owns EE, has revealed it is also providing anonymous records of mobile users to UK officials to help track their movements.

At least 40 more people have died from Covid-19 in the UK, taking the death toll up to 1448, as hidden deaths at home were revealed today.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, warned on Monday that deaths will continue to rise and that it was important for Brits to adhere to social distancing rules.


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In other news, Google Maps has released virtual tours of ancient sites like the Pyramids of Giza for people on lockdown.

A stolen ancient Roman missile has been returned after the thief feared coronavirus had brought the end of world.

And, a US museum’s prized collection of Dead Sea Scroll fragments are fakes, according to experts.

What do you think of the Google Maps move? Let us know in the comments!

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