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Family-tracking app company selling user data like crazy, is about to buy Tile
- Life360 — which owns the family-tracking app of the same name and will soon own Tile — sells a ton of user data.
- A new report suggests the company allegedly plays fast and loose with that data.
- The company has no plans to sell Tile user data, but its family-tracking app bears no such promise.
At this point, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that a company is making money off your data. That’s just the world we live in. What matters most now is how precise that sold data is and who is buying it.
According to a new report from The Markup, the company known as Life360 is allegedly playing fast and loose with its user data. This is particularly alarming when you realize Life360 also owns a family-tracking app of the same name with over 33 million users. The company is also the future owner of Tile, the popular brand of GPS trackers.
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The report from The Markup contends that Life360 allegedly doesn’t do much to “fuzz” the data it sells in order to prevent it from being easily traceable to a specific person. There are also allegations that it sells the data to companies with spotty histories of privacy and security ethics.
As one would expect, the TOS agreement for the Life360 app clearly states the company sells user data. However, it’s likely most users aren’t aware of just how much of that data is sold, nor are they likely aware of how specific that data could possibly be. There’s also the ethical quandary that comes up when you note that a lot of Life360 data is based on the activity of children aged 13 and up. The company’s policy says it does not use data from children under 13.
Company founder and CEO Chris Hulls readily told The Markup about its data-selling policies. He pointed out that he would support legislation that would make data-selling more transparent for the user. He also noted that the company does not sell its data to any government organizations involved with law enforcement.
Life360 has no plans to sell Tile info
Obviously, the privacy implications of physical GPS trackers like those from Tile could make consumers nervous. As of now, Life360 — which announced plans to buy Tile for $205 million — says it has no plans to sell Tile user data.
However, the fact that the company makes the bulk of its money from selling data from its family tracking app doesn’t bolster that claim. Hulls says that selling user data is a core tenet of its business model and it helps keep the Life360 app cheap or even free for some families. It is unclear how the company plans to make money from Tile trackers, considering the hardware bill of materials for those trackers is likely very close to the retail price.
If you use the Life360 app, you can go to Settings > Privacy & Security and opt out of the company selling your personal information.