How many users does Waze
The information portal for safe cell phone use
This is Waze
With the Waze navigation app, users play the central role. Through their use, they have built up the geodata set for the service and can also improve and add to the maps themselves.
Still, Waze is a purely commercial product. All user-generated content belongs to Waze Mobile Ltd., which has been part of the Google Group since 2013.
In addition to navigation, the app also provides information about the traffic situation and users can contact each other. There is advertising and paid card content (for example paid pins, such as markings for restaurants) in the app. There is also a chargeable additional service called "Waze Carpool".
The software used to be open source, which means that anyone could view the program code and check for errors. The program code has been under lock and key since version 3.x.
The app is free and available for iPhones and Android devices. Offline use of the service is not intended. The app has more than 100 million downloads in the Google Play store.
Note: Unfortunately we could not test the data transfer of the app due to the strong encryption. The following information is based on information from Waze, especially from the data protection declaration.
Waze permanently stores location data
The app will not work without permission to access the location. The service records and stores location data and routes traveled until you delete your account. They can be viewed via the user account. There is no way to turn this storage off. Those who use Waze frequently can use it to accumulate a more or less complete movement profile for the service.
With this, Waze falls short of the setting options of Google Maps, where you can at least object to the permanent storage of location data in the Google account.
In principle, the following applies: storing sensitive data such as your own movement profile in an online service always involves a risk. Law enforcement agencies can force the disclosure and the data can be stolen.
Settings and data protection
Whoever installs the app automatically creates a user account with the service. This also happens if you don't choose a username. Waze then uses a unique identifier that the app retrieves from your device to associate your device with the account. The provider does not say which ID this is, but the Android ID is typically used for this.
According to the data protection declaration, the service saves everything you do in the app and upload it yourself and link it to this account.
By default, others can see your profile (name and picture) on the map when you are nearby. Without a username, only “Wazer” is displayed. You can set that you are no longer visible.
At the start, Waze provides legally compliant information about collected user data and obtains reliable consent. The function that Waze also collects location data when the app is not used is only activated after explicit consent. The same goes for personalized advertising.
According to its own information, Waze works with advertising networks and analysis services and passes on the Android advertising ID there. Google's advertising network Doubleclick and the analysis service Appsflyer are named.
According to its own information, Waze also uses information that advertising partners and companies in the Google Group have saved for their own advertising ID.
Where do the maps come from?
The service is structured in such a way that every user who uses the app permanently feeds geodata into the Waze database. In this way, the provider was able to gradually build up its own global geodata set.
For the start, Waze used some freely available, rudimentary data sets, for example the TIGER data set for the USA. In addition to the passive structure of the database, users can also actively improve the cards and submit reports, for example about traffic controls or accidents.
All user generated geospatial and other information belongs to Waze. The service does not make its dataset available to others for free, like OpenStreetMap does. Data from Waze's real-time traffic recording also flows into Google Maps.
Waze appears to be a community project, but it is tough commercialism. The location is always read out and permanently saved at Waze. With frequent use, this can result in a movement profile. After all: the provider provides legally compliant and transparent information about everything he does.
Anyone who wants to help improve maps for everyone will find the more honest community approach in OpenStreetMap. We recommend the data-saving map app Magic Earth, which is based on this.
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