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Location Sharing

Keybase offers the option of sharing your location into conversations in chat from the mobile app. These can be either personal chats or team chats, wherever the /location command is available. In addition, the client allows for posting your location over a time interval, a so-called "live location". The proper use of this feature requires Keybase to have access to the user's location on the mobile device.

How it Works

Locations are shared into conversations through the use of the Google Maps Static API. The system for obtaining the map is similar to how Giphy search is implemented. We use the following procedure to obtain a map:

  1. Keybase client opens a TCP connection to the Keybase Google Maps proxy server.
  2. Keybase client performs TLS for the googleapis.com domain and certificate. This protects the data from Keybase.
  3. The Keybase proxy server opens a TCP connection to googleapis.com and begins forwarding packets to/from Google and the Keybase client. This protects the client from exposing its IP address to Google.

Once we have the map, we package it up, encrypt it, and send it directly into the chat selected. As a result, receivers of this map will just be downloading an encrypted payload like any other from Keybase, no communication with any third party is required.

Live Location

In order to post a location continuously over a time interval, Keybase implements the following procedure:

  1. Start a loop that will run until the user either explicitly stops location sharing, or the timer runs out.
  2. At most every 30 seconds, delete the current map posted for the location share, and replace it with a new one containing the updated location. In addition, we add on another map that shows where the user has been during the location share.
  3. Once the location share is complete, we post a final map indicating the user is no longer sharing their location.