by Ailan Evans
A family safety app used to track children’s movements is selling location data to several different data brokers, according to an investigation by The Markup.
Life360, which bills itself as a “family location sharing app” that purports to “simplify safety” for families, is selling customers’ location data to over a dozen data brokers including X-Mode, SafeGraph and Cuebiq, the Markup reported, citing interviews with two ex–Life360 employees and two former employees of major location data brokers.
These third parties include SafeGraph and X-Mode which have respectively sold data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Defense (DOD), the Markup reported.
Life360 CEO and Founder Chris Hulls told the Markup that the company has a policy in place preventing any customer data from being sold to the federal government.
“From a philosophical standpoint, we do not believe it is appropriate for government agencies to attempt to obtain data in the commercial market as a way to bypass an individual’s right to due process,” Hulls said.
Life360 did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
The two ex-Life360 employees also told the outlet that the company doesn’t take adequate steps to anonymize data so that it can’t be used to identify specific users.
Hulls responded to these claims by pointing out that the company follows “industry best practices” for data privacy and only sold “raw” location data to certain companies. Hull also said that the company took steps to ensure third parties did not use the data to identify particular individuals.
“We are not aware of any instance where our data has been traced back to individuals via our data partners,” Hulls told the outlet. “Furthermore, our contracts contain language specifically prohibiting any reidentification, and we would aggressively take action against any breach of this term.”
Justin Sherman, a cyber policy fellow at the Duke Tech Policy Lab, told the Markup that having location data sold to third parties can have unforeseen effects that may not be immediately obvious.
“I’m sure there are lots of families who do find very real comfort in an application like this, and that’s valid,” Sherman said. “That doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways that other people are harmed with this data.
“It also doesn’t mean that the family couldn’t be harmed with the data in ways that they’re not aware of, such as that location data being used to target ads [or] used by insurance companies to figure out where they’re traveling and increase their rates,” he said.
– – –
Ailan Evans is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.