Following the Russian-Ukraine unrest, Google has released updates on various services and assistance for the safety of Ukrainians. This move comes after Google Maps’ real-time traffic data were disabled in the country. Among other ongoing efforts, Google announces that it’s enabling a rapid air-raid alert system for Android phones in Ukraine.
According to a post by Google’s president of global affairs, Kent Walker, that says “At the request and help of the Ukrainian government, we have begun rolling out a rapid air raid alert system for Android phones in Ukraine.” This rapid Air Raid alert is said to be natively built into the users of their Android phones in Ukraine. This isn’t the first time search giant Google is releasing features that has a direct impact on people, recently Google released an open-source anti-harassment tool for women. The tool is geared at helping women journalists, public figures and activists, especially those covering controversial topics or living under autocratic governments, manage online abuse.
In a series of tweets by Dave Burke, vice president of engineering at Google, he details what the system is. He discloses that Google is leveraging on the low-latency alerting mechanism for earthquake alerts. Burke claims that the system has begun to roll out and will be available for “all Android phones in Ukraine in the next few days”. It features a red warning triangle icon and is sent by Google Play Services. A tap lets users change settings. This feature uses only your device’s approximate location to send notifications about potential air raids. Google does not use this location information to track or identify you. Burke today thanked “eng/product/UX teams for racing to get to a solution in short order”
Walker disclosed that after the Russian government suspended Google advertising, the vast majority of the company’s business activities in Russia also got suspended. This business activity includes worldwide advertising on Google properties and the web for all Russian advertisers, payment capabilities for most services, new cloud registrations, , and monetization for Russian YouTube viewers. However, Google decided to keep running its free services in Russia, such as Search, Gmail and YouTube.
The European Union has called on search giant- Google, to delete the Russian state media from search results. According to the European governments,’ this move marks an escalation of drastic attempts to block out reports or from the Russian side. However, this also raises serious concerns about the regard for the fundamental law that governs free speech. Basically, what the European Union wants is for people to see and hear only what they say. However, this move has been condemned by many saying, people should have the freedom to access information from both sides and in the end choose which side to believe or stick with. Except, of course, there is no freedom on what and what not to believe.
On March 2, the EU issued official order which states the banning of “broadcasts” by Russia Today and Sputnik. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Google-owned YouTube have announced last week that posts from European accounts of Russian state media would be blocked in response to public pressure and government demands.
However, this ban does not only apply to social accounts owned by Russian media but also to search results. Those who are interested in getting information or hearing the Russian side can follow their Telegram account for all the information. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the crisis between 2 European countries currently in cross disagreement is very political.