Cybersecurity concerns: Google disables navigation features in Gaza and Israel

News Bulletin Reports
2023-10-27 | 11:34
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Cybersecurity concerns: Google disables navigation features in Gaza and Israel
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3min
Cybersecurity concerns: Google disables navigation features in Gaza and Israel

Google has suspended its mapping and navigation features in the Gaza Strip and Israel, including Google Maps and Waze.

Consequently, real-time traffic data and navigation assistance have become inaccessible in the region, with only location tracking available for users going from one place to another.

The significant aspect of this decision is that it does not apply uniformly across the region, impacting certain areas in the Gaza Strip and Israel differently.

LBCI sources in the occupied Palestinian territories confirm that the service is entirely disabled in some Jewish towns like Haifa, Kedumim, and Kiryat Shmona while functioning normally in Arab towns such as Nazareth and its surroundings.

For instance, one individual trying to travel from one location within Nazareth could utilize the service, while another person attempting to journey from Nazareth to Haifa noticed that the app continued to operate until reaching Migdal HaEmek in the Israeli region leading to Haifa.

In Gaza, the app does not function at all. For example, a person trying to go from the Al-Quds Hospital to Deir al-Balah encountered issues as the service failed to provide guidance.

Not only has the navigation service been disabled, but the live traffic data, which shows congestion and road conditions, is also no longer available.

According to Bloomberg, Google took this step following a request from the Israeli military in anticipation of a potential ground invasion in Gaza. This is due to the belief that real-time traffic information could potentially reveal the movements of the Israeli military.

Additionally, the feature that displays traffic congestion could disclose the presence of military gatherings.

This decision by Google is reminiscent of its actions during the Russia-Ukraine war when researchers used Google Maps to track Russian troop movements before Russia invaded Ukraine. In response, Google temporarily suspended the service.

Meanwhile, CNN reported that some hackers have been using Google Maps to spread anti-Israel messages. This is what users are confronted with when they find their way to the Rafah crossing.

Users have reported seeing place names with phrases like "Curse Israel" and "Curse the Israeli Jerusalem," leading CNN to question whether this was one of the factors influencing Google's decision.

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