An app that calls itself a “family safety platform” is looking to be more than just that. Life360 is built to allow family members to keep tabs on each other through location tracking via software installed on their phones. However, the app seems to be doing more than that; apparently, stealing and selling user location data to third parties.
Before moving on, let’s take a quick look at Life360 and its user base. Founded in 2008, Life360 is a California-based location tracking IT company, sharing data and notifications to its 33 million user base worldwide.
Life360 and its business model
The concerning part here is the user base of the app and the time since it has been in business. Now, two former employees of Life360 have come forward to reveal that Life360 is the largest source of data in the industry. Moreover, the app sells location data from both children and adults to a dozen data brokers that further sell the data to multiple third parties.
All this new information raises concerns about how location-tracking apps use the data collected and the safeguards used in the industry to prevent misuse. In addition, this hits directly on user privacy, and in this case, not just Android users, but iOS users too.
The former employee further stated that Life360 doesn’t apply any safeguards to ensure that location histories cannot be traced back to the concerned individuals. Furthermore, what the app does is, remove all the apparent user identifying information, all the while not aggregating data and reducing precision. This further creates chances to corner user identification by rounding up the data.
As reported by The Markup, Chris Hulls, Life360 CEO, says that “data is an important part of our business model that allows us to keep the core Life360 service free for the majority of our users.” While it’s not really free when users pay for it with their privacy? Meanwhile, it makes you wonder if your data is really safe or not.