As the situation intensifies in the Middle East, Google and Apple have made significant changes to their map functionalities in Israel and the Gaza Strip. According to Bloomberg reporting, this move comes in response to the Israeli military’s request and the looming possibility of a ground invasion into Gaza.
Tech giants respond to military request
Alphabet Inc.’s Google has disabled live traffic conditions for its Maps and Waze apps in Israel and the Gaza Strip, following a request from the Israeli military. The decision aims to prevent the potential misuse of real-time data that could inadvertently reveal Israeli troop movements.
A Google spokesperson stated, “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.”
This isn’t the first time Google has taken such action. The company previously disabled real-time vehicle and foot traffic data in Ukraine after Russia’s invasion.
While real-time traffic won’t be displayed on Maps and Waze, Google assured that drivers would still receive estimated times of arrival based on live conditions.
Israeli tech site GeekTime reported that Apple Inc.’s Maps app also complied with the Israeli army’s request. However, Apple has yet to comment on the matter. The Israel Defense Forces have also not provided an immediate response.
The broader context
Tensions have escalated dramatically in the region. Israel has mobilized over 300,000 reservists following attacks from Hamas, which resulted in the death of more than 1,400 people in southern Israel and over 200 taken hostage. The potential ground invasion of Gaza by Israel has drawn criticism from global leaders due to concerns over civilian casualties. U.S. President Joe Biden, during his recent meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, inquired about potential “alternatives” to a ground war.