Google has reportedly shut down a popular network diagnostics service that shared anonymized data from Android devices with telecom companies, allowing them to detect weak spots in their network coverage and improve their services. According to the Reuters, the US tech giant shut down its ‘Mobile Network Insights’ service last April to prevent any further scrutiny from global privacy watchdogs and government regulators, many of whom are already investigating the company for its allegedly questionable privacy practices.
As per the report, telecom operators have expressed their disappointment over Google’s decision, as they used the data to decide where to extend or upgrade their coverage. “Even though the data were anonymous and the sharing of it has become commonplace, Google’s move illustrates how concerned the company has become about drawing attention amid a heightened focus in much of the world on data privacy”, said the report.
Launched in March 2017, Google’s Mobile Network Insights was a free network diagnostic service that gathered anonymized data from Android devices and made them available to carriers. The service provided detailed, crowd-sourced information about signal strengths and connection speeds from users who opted to share their location history and diagnostics with Google, enabling telecom providers to better manage their networks.
Google spokeswoman Victoria Keough is believed to have confirmed the move, but refused to provide any further details apart from citing the company’s changing ‘product priorities’. According to her, “We worked on a program to help mobile partners improve their networks through aggregated and anonymized performance metrics … We remain committed to improving network performance across our apps and services for users”.