Voice Navigation in Europe: the Google Maps Party Pooper

Google may be celebrating its worldwide expansion of Maps with voice navigation, having launched the tool in Spain, Germany and several other European countries, as well as Canada. But some people aren’t nearly as thrilled about this kind of Google growth, particularly those unhappy with the methods behind collecting the data necessary for Google to extend its highly detailed map information.

From Google:

Today we’re launching Google Maps Navigation version 4.2 in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland for Android devices 1.6 and higher. Google Maps Navigation is an Internet-connected GPS navigation or ‘satnav’ system that provides turn-by-turn voice guidance as a free feature of Google Maps.

As an Android user that appreciates the sound of a digital voice navigating my every driving turn, I’m certainly thrilled to see the feature available to more people. But Google’s continued, rapid growth also means the company needs to remain cautious about the information it collects, keeps and utilizes in an effort to make these features free to all.

Google is currently facing a number of lawsuits regarding its data collection for its mapping tools, specifically the pinpointing of open Wi-Fi networks for the purpose of better recognizing one’s relative location. These lawsuits, which are popping up in nearly half of the countries where Google’s new voice navigation is available today, are primarily addressing Google’s Street Views initiative. An Oregon woman has also launched an investigation into Google, seeking details on how the search giant is garnering and using its inappropriately accidentally collected data.

Sure, Google has announced that it will hand over the data requested by many of its European authorities. But it’s not just the collection of the data that has people concerned–it’s what Google is doing with that data. Yes, we can all do our best to protect ourselves from unwarranted data collection, as pointed out in Forbes. Yet holding Google responsible for its methods and use cases is just another form of self-preservation.