Google Suspends its Mobile Insights Service for fears of Data Privacy Issues

Andrew Cummings
August 20, 2019

The search giant shut down its Mobile Network Insights service, which provided wireless carriers with data on signal strengths and connection speeds in their coverage areas, according to Reuters. Google is already facing its first GDPR probe from regulators because the European Union data privacy legislation enters its second year, and due to recent calls for new data privacy regulations in the US.

Google is understood to have shut the service down in April this year because of concerns about data privacy.

A spokesperson for Google confirmed the closure and cited "product priorities". "We worked on a program that allows mobile partners to improve their network", the statement said. The data provided by Google told them where to upgrade or extend coverage. The data was aggregated before being sent to the carriers, which means they would be unable to link the data to individual users.

YouTube spokeswoman Mariana De Felice told Reuters the company had relatively low user engagement rates. It's only been over two years but the map brought important information.

This program - known as Mobile Network Insights - was previously unheard of until Reuters obtained information about it.

It was an "independent reference from the horse's mouth, so you couldn't get any better than this", said Mushil Mustafa, a former employee at Dubai-based carrier du. Keough provided comment there, suggesting that Google remains "committed to improving network performance across our apps and services for users".

Although the company did not say as much, it's a good bet that Google turned Mobile Network Insights off as a preemptive move against the public finding out about it and being displeased with its existence. The service provided data to telecom companies all over the world. Google's data policy that Android users agree to states that it may collect and share network connection quality information.

As users demand greater transparency, what constitutes a violation of consumer trust is not clear. The company rejected requests to give equipment vendors any data, it said.

Other reports by iNewsToday