Life360 sold user location data, sparking controversy

Occurred: December 2021

Family safety app Life360 collected and sold users' data to at least a dozen data brokers, prompting controversy about the company's transparency, ethics and approach to privacy. 

Used by approximately 33 million people worldwide, Life360 enables friends and family members to share their exact location. However, it was identified as one of the largest sources of raw data for the location data industry, with X-Mode, Cuebiq, Allstate's Arity, Safegraph and other data brokers packaging and selling Life360 data 'to virtually anyone who wants to buy it'.

The controversy led to Life360 announcing that it would stop selling precise location data. This decision came after reports revealed that Life360 was not sufficiently anonymising the data it sold. The company’s CEO, Chris Hulls, announced that Life360 would phase out all of its location data deals, except with Allstate’s Arity. However, the app would continue to sell location data to, but in an aggregated rather than raw, precise form.

Despite these changes, the company faced a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging it sold users’ location data without permission. The suit was brought on behalf of a Florida minor and his family, who claimed they would not have used Life360 had they known about the data sales.

Operator: Life360; X-Mode; Cuebiq; Allstate/Arity; Safegraph
Developer: Life360
Country: Global
Sector: Business/professional services
Purpose: Track childrens' movements
Technology: Location tracking
Issue: Ethics/values; Privacy; Security
Transparency: Governance; Privacy

Legal, regulatory 👩🏼‍⚖️

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: December 2021
Last updated: February 2022