What you need to know
- Tile's parent company Life360 is reportedly selling its customer's location data.
- The report alleges that the company shares precise location data with a number of data brokers.
- Tile announced it was acquired by Life360 last month.
Last month, AirTag competitor Tile announced that it was being acquired by the family safety company Life360. Now, a report from The Markup alleges that Tile's new parent company is sharing the location data of all of its customers with "virtually anyone who wants to buy it."
Through interviews with two former employees of the company, along with two individuals who formerly worked at location data brokers Cuebiq and X-Mode, The Markup discovered that the app acts as a firehose of data for a controversial industry that has operated in the shadows with few safeguards to prevent the misuse of this sensitive information. The former employees spoke with The Markup on the condition that we not use their names, as they are all still employed in the data industry. They said they agreed to talk because of concerns with the location data industry's security and privacy and a desire to shed more light on the opaque location data economy. All of them described Life360 as one of the largest sources of data for the industry.
When asked for a statement, Life360 founder and CEO Chris Hulls acknowledged that the company does share certain data in order to make certain levels of its service free to its customers.
"We have no means to confirm or deny the accuracy" of whether Life360 is among the largest sources of data for the industry. 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 practice, however privacy-invasive, sets up Tile for some major distrust with its customers who, by comparison, can purchase an AirTag from Apple and know that the company is not sharing their data at all. Justin Sherman, Duke Tech Policy Lab fellow, nailed it when he said that "Families probably would not like the slogan, 'You can watch where your kids are, and so can anyone who buys this information."
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