There are countless apps designed to make parenting so much easier. They are there to help you see where your child is, who he chats with, and so much more! Sounds spectacular, isn’t it? Well, it’s not always as simple as that, and parents have to face some grim truth from time to time. Here’s one such story.
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Life360’s Data-Sharing Overreach: What’s Happened
Life360, a top-rated family location sharing app, found itself caught in a conflict over a series of allegations that it sells user location data to third parties. The company that recently acquired Tile is embroiled in quite a controversy, as many parents lost trust in one of the most popular family apps. Used by more than 30 million parents to keep track of their kids, one would expect it to be more judicial in how it handles users’ data.
The company, which prides itself in being the “leading family safety platform,” recently came under fire after a damning report by The Markup. According to the new revelations from individuals who used to work there, the company may have been dealing with data brokers and selling them user data. This could very well undermine the company’s credibility and seriously impair the staggering speed with which the company has been growing for the past several years.
What makes this development highly worrying is the fact that not only is this app used by 33 million people, but it’s especially popular among scores of worried parents who want to keep tabs on their children. This means that the location data, some pretty sensitive information on young children and even whole families, were clandestinely disclosed to dozens of third parties.
Selling Location Data: A Scheme
The report published in The Markup is based on the information provided by two former employees of Cuebiq and X-Mode. These individuals, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the Life360 “operated in the shadows with few safeguards to prevent the misuse of this sensitive information.”
Another person, who used to work as an engineer at X-mode, added that this location data was actually one of the most valuable things that Life360 could offer due to the “sheer volume and precision of the data.” Simply by selling such data, the company earned a whopping 16 million in 2020 alone.
Chris Hulls, Life360 founder and CEO, refused to either reject outright or substantiate the claims made by the whistleblowers. He just said, “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 Sketchy Data Practices
Life360 is now acquiring Tile, another big company that became synonymous with Bluetooth trackers the same way Fabreeze is with air fresheners. Concerned parents and current & prospective users will think twice before moving forward with the purchase next time around. Although Hulls tried to reassure customers, most users found his comments half-hearted at best.
The serious allegations against the company that bills itself as a first-rate ‘family safety service’ made quite a dent in its reputation. Sure, many other companies—Google, Facebook, PayPal, and Amazon come to mind—mine the data generated by users like there’s no tomorrow as well. The problem is that these, unlike Life360, don’t advertise themselves as safety companies bent on giving you peace of mind.
To crown it all, both Life360 and Tile went to great lengths to inform users that they have no intention to sell the data provided by Tile tracker. Will they keep their promise? Only time will tell. Now that the trust users put in the app has been lost, and a specific line has been crossed, building it back will be hard.
Is There a Trustworthy Alternative to Privacy-Invasive Apps?
It’s hard not to lose heart in light of such news. Most apps that claim to help parents keep tabs on their children only pay lip service to privacy, but continue to hoard sensitive personal information. Worse still, they eventually end up selling it to third parties. No parent would want their child’s location to be passed around like it’s something trivial. Is there any other solution you can trust?
Enter mSpy, a parental control app like no other. Sure, it collects and transfers your child’s location data, but only so you can get high-quality service and unrivaled precision. Yet, it doesn’t sell it to third parties, and surely not in such a covert way.
Try it out yourself and see what using a trustworthy family safety product is.