Google Maps and Waze have disabled live traffic updates for areas of Israel and the Gaza Strip at the request of the Israeli military, according to a Bloomberg report. The live data tool was removed ahead of a potential ground invasion for the safety of local communities.
“As we have done previously in conflict situations and in response to the evolving situation in the region, we have temporarily disabled the ability to see live traffic conditions and busyness information out of consideration for the safety of local communities,” a Google spokesperson said to Gizmodo in a statement.
Live traffic information can reveal details about troop movements or where there are masses of people gathered. The technology aggregates anonymous location data to show where there are traffic delays. Last year, Google disabled live traffic in Ukraine as a means to protect citizens when Russian forces invaded the country.
Early in the Ukraine war, civilians used Google Maps to watch the Russian invasion hours before it was announced by Vladimir Putin, according to a Motherboard report. One open-source intelligence (OSINT) expert and college professor saw a traffic jam in Russia using the live traffic layer on Google Maps.
For users in the affected regions of Israel and Gaza, a pop-up on Waze reads, “Due to the security situation: Other drivers, traffic jams, and other alerts will not be displayed,” according to a 9to5Google report. Waze appears to still be fully functional in other parts of Israel, such as Tel Aviv, while live traffic data in Google Maps has been disabled country-wide.
Google Maps and Waze users in the region will still be able to use the apps for navigation and continue to receive estimated times of arrival based on live conditions while omitting specifics about where traffic jams are located.
Apple Maps has also reportedly shut off its live traffic features according to GeekTime, an Israeli tech publication that was the first to spot the incident. Apple did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
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