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Life360 app is selling data from millions of families, report says

The company, whose app lets family members share their location with one another, has allegedly done little to protect their identities when it sells their data.

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Parents use the Life360 app to make sure they know where their children are.

Screenshot by David Priest/CNET

Life360, an app that enables family members to share their location with one another, sells its user data to "approximately a dozen data brokers who have sold data to virtually anyone who wants to buy it," The Markup reported Monday. The report landed less than a month after Life360 bought Tile, a well-known location tracking company.

Life360, like other apps that track location data, makes a significant portion of its annual revenue from selling this data -- about 20 percent in 2020. But this report reveals the extent to which Life360 is failing to sufficiently anonymize the data it sells. According to the article, companies purchasing the data could easily tie data back to specific users because locations are not fuzzed out, aggregated or otherwise obfuscated for the purpose of preserving user privacy.

Complicating the report is the fact that much of this data comes from children because parents use the app as a protective measure and reassurance when family members aren't together.

"We do have data partnerships," a Life360 spokesperson told CNET, "but not a single one that permits children's data to be personally identified. All of our partners have extremely strict contractual limitations to ensure privacy."

Life360 has 31 million users, with subscription levels that range from free to $20 per month. The spokesperson said about 80 percent of its users opt for the free version.

This report comes mere weeks after Life360 purchased Tile, a company specializing in tracking the locations of items like keys and phones using small fobs. The acquisition positions Life360 to significantly expand its influence in the location tracking and data sales industries.

"We respect Tile and its users and will honor their existing data policies and practices," the spokesperson said.