Google maps is a powerful tool when it comes to detecting an individual’s location. It can be used both as a live tracker by using the location history feature, or as a way to detect a location using their photographs and the street view feature.
With just an email login, you can gain access to an individual’s location history including the time they were there. This can show the patterns of a person’s location, as well as being able to track where they have been. As most people have their location turned on their smartphones, the location tracking is updated regularly and. Users can turn their location history off which can prevent unwanted access to your location. Google maps has been used in real life investigations for example in a podcast To Live and Die in LA, they describe how with just a google login, they gain access to the Google location of the suspect and are able to accurately locate where he was.
With people now uploading pictures regularly, users are unknowingly sharing their location, and putting their privacy at risk. Having a picture in your front garden for example is an easy way for somebody to detect where you live, and with the access to Google maps, it is easy to figure out the location using the photograph and Google maps street view. As seen in the Netflix documentary, Don’t F*ck with Cats, members of the public detected the building complex of a murder suspect using an image from his Facebook profile of him stood on his apartment balcony. They used the photograph to locate his apartment complex on Google maps. Whilst it was quite time-consuming wandering the streets of his area, they were able to discover where he lived and get him prosecuted.
The tools have been used positively in the examples we have given, and have helped solved crimes, however the same steps can be taken by dangerous people who may want to stalk individuals or find your address. Therefore, it is important to ensure your google account is very secure, and that you don’t share too much information about your location, even a photo in your front garden can be enough to detect your address!