Report: Life360 app found to be selling precise location data on its users

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Life360 is a family safety app used by approximately 33 million people. The app keeps track of family members and offers other features such as SOS, arrival times, and emergency services. Life360 has been featured on major mainstream media outlets like USA Today, The New York Times, Forbes, and more.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Life360 offers membership plans that range from US$4.99 to US$19.99, which gets you other features like roadside assistance, medical assistance, crash detection, and more. One of the more enjoyable parts of the app is seeing the precise location of your friends and family. This feature was especially praised by parents who wanted to keep tabs on their kids using their smartphones GPS.

But now, a new investigative report in The Markup claims that the Life360 app has been selling that precise location data and making millions. According to the report, Life360 has been “selling data on kids’ and families’ whereabouts to approximately a dozen data brokers who have sold data to virtually anyone who wants to buy it.”

The Markup interviewed two former employees of the company and two individuals who worked at data brokerage companies Cuebiq and X-Mode. The report claims that the app acts as a “firehose” of data with few safeguards to protect the same data being sold.

“We have no means to confirm or deny the accuracy” of whether Life360 is among the largest sources of data for the industry, Life360 founder and CEO Chris Hulls said in an emailed response to questions from The Markup. “We see data as an important part of our business model that allows us to keep the core Life360 services free for the majority of our users, including features that have improved driver safety and saved numerous lives.”

The Markup
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There are potentially more companies that benefit from Life360’s data based on those partners’ customers.

The Markup has confirmed that Cuebiq, X-Mode, and a company called Allstate’s Arity have all been purchasing user data from Life360.

A former X-Mode engineer said the raw location data the company received from Life360 was among X-Mode’s most valuable offerings due to the sheer volume and precision of the data. A former Cuebiq employee joked that the company wouldn’t be able to run its marketing campaigns without Life360’s constant flow of location data.

The former Life360 employee also told us Safegraph was among the buyers, which was confirmed by an email from a Life360 executive that was viewed by The Markup. There are potentially more companies that benefit from Life360’s data based on those partners’ customers.

In 2020, the company made $16 million—nearly 20 percent of its revenue that year—from selling location data, plus an additional $6 million from its partnership with Arity.

The Markup

We would encourage you to check out the full report and article on The Markup, as there is more information than we have covered here. For now, at least you know that the Life360 app is selling your precise location data, but reading The Markup’s piece will shed more light on the situation.

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Last Updated on December 7, 2021.

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