Warning: *privacy not included with this product
These little doohickies attach to just about anything: your pet, wallet, keys, bike, bags, other people’s bags. The app lets you track your things within Bluetooth range and rings where they are if you lose something. There's a waterproof version, a super slim version, a sticker version, and a Pro version to meet any potential "now where did I put that?" need you could possibly have. Tile joined with Amazon Sidewalk to offer even more tracking to these trackers for users in the US by using Amazon Echo and Ring devices in the community to help track your Tile. Tile also has their Tile Network of phones running their Tile app that can ping your Tile to help find it, kinda like Apple's Find My network (but smaller). Is Tile creepy though? Yeah, they kinda are.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Tile -- now Tile by Life360 after they got bought by family tracking service Life360 in 2021 -- is the OG maker of Bluetooth trackers. But since Apple introduced their super popular AirTags, Tile has been playing catch-up. Apple launched AirTags using their vast Find My network of nearly a billion Apple devices, making locating AirTags just about anywhere a reality. So in response, Tile joined up with Amazon Sidewalk to expand their community network (at least in the US, Amazon Sidewalk doesn’t work outside the US) to all those supported Echo and Ring devices out there in the world, seriously expanding their locating network. Fortunately, so far the privacy and security of Amazon Sidewalk looks promising according to privacy watchdog EFF. Quick privacy PSA: With anywhere-tracking, you might be tempted to track down your stolen stuff on your own, Batman-style. Please don't do that. Mostly, it's dangerous. But also, you could end up harassing an innocent person.
Less than a year after the AirTag was introduced, people were surprised to find trackers hidden in their bags and cars. Agh! Bad actors figured out they could use these well-meaning doodads to track people’s movement without their consent. Since only the trackers’ owners could see their location, one could be following you around in your pocket without you knowing. Again, Apple was pretty quick to try to introduce a solution. Unfortunately, Tile wasn’t as speedy. Last year they finally did announce a “Scan and Secure” feature that lets anyone scan their surroundings for a Tile through their app, even if you don’t have an account. So if you’re worried that someone might have slipped a Tile in your bag, you can find it and disable it. A decent start, but you still have to download the Tile app.
Here's a concern: If anyone can easily find and disable your Tiles, that might make it easier for people to find and steal your stuff -- which is what some people try to use trackers to prevent. Faced with this conundrum, Tile came up with a pretty extreme “solution.” Their Anti-Theft Mode makes Tiles undetectable by the “Scan and Secure” feature while also trying to make sure that no one will want to use them for stalking. It works like this: you can only turn on Anti-Theft Mode if you verify your identity with multiple factors, including a selfie and government ID. The idea is that people won’t commit a crime (like stalking) if they’re not anonymous. Questionable, but OK. There’s more. Anti-Theft Mode users also have to acknowledge that, woah, hang on a sec, that “personal information can and will be shared with law enforcement at our discretion, even without a subpoena, to aid in the investigation and prosecution of suspected stalking.” No matter what the justification is, that’s a line we never like to see in privacy policies. It also cheeses us off when safety and privacy are pitted against each other.
Tile also say that anyone who’s convicted of using Tiles for stalking will be subject to a one million dollar fine. We get it, Tile! You want to discourage stalking. But we’re not convinced this is the best way to go about it. And we wouldn’t stake our safety on the idea that stalkers are highly rational people who weigh the pros and cons of their actions. Anyhoo, if you do think you’re being stalked with an undetectable Tile in “Anti-Theft Mode,” the company urges you to submit a Google Form and wait for a Tile team member to be in touch. Is it just us or does that seem to put a heck of a lot of pressure on Tile's team? One of Tile’s goals is “giving law enforcement the information they need to pursue justice for victims” and they’re probably right that Anti-Theft Mode will help with that. But wouldn’t it be better to stop the stalking the moment it starts, instead of building a case against your stalker after you find out they’ve been stalking you? You can do better, Tile, we believe in you.
Aside from all that! Tile by Life360’s privacy practices aren't great. They may collect information about you from third parties. They may also share your personal information with third parties for “tailored advertising purposes.” They say they can share de-identified data to third parties, including advertisers This is where we remind you that privacy researchers have found that de-identified data, especially data that includes location information, can be pretty easy to re-identify making hard to be totally anonymous.
What’s the worst thing that could happen with Tile trackers? Well, someone could take your umbrella at a coffee shop, find your tracker, accuse you of stalking them, then Tile might hand over your personal information to the cops on a hunch. Or, your movements could be tracked by a well-hidden Tile without you knowing it, because your stalker is confident they won’t be caught and you don’t know to be on the lookout. Yikes. All in all, we're quite worried that Tile by Life360's trackers could come with *privacy not included.
Tips to protect yourself
- Opt out of sale of your personal data via the Life360 app!
- Check the tips on how to know if someone is tracking you without your consent.
- Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
- Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
- Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
- Keep your app regularly updated
- Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
- Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
- When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data if possible.
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Username, email address, real name, nicknames, date of birth, telephone number, password, shipping and billing addresses; IP address, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS coordinates (e.g., latitude/longitude); Information about your device, hardware and software information, such as your mobile device identifiers, IP address, or browser information (including browser type and language preference); Your location and motion information through your IP address, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS coordinates (e.g., latitude/longitude) available through your mobile device, motion information such as altitude, heading and speed.
A unique biometric identifier based on facial geometry (if you use identity verification)
When you create a Circle in your Life360 app and invite a friend or family member to join your Circle, we collect their name, email address, mobile phone number, and photo if one is provided; Respective social content if you message other members of your Circle through use of our Services, when you provide Life360 with feedback, when you make a blog post, comment, or when you tag Life360, Tile or Jiobit in a social media post, any photos or videos you send via the in-app messaging to other members of your Circles.
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
In 2023, proposed class-action lawsuit was filed against Life360 alleging it sold users' location data without permission.
In December 2021, it was reported that Life360 is selling precise location data on tens of millions of users including data of kids’ and families’ whereabouts to approximately a dozen data brokers who have sold data to virtually anyone who wants to buy it.
In 2021 Life360 was accused of selling location data. Selling location data was an "important part" of the company's business model, according to Life360 CEO Chris Hull.
Child Privacy Information
Can this product be used offline?
Bluetooth connection is still required to use the device.
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
"Tile uses encryption in transit, meaning communications between the phone and cloud are encrypted (https). They secure communications from the Tile to the phone and encrypt communications from the phone to the cloud. They claim to use industry-standard cryptography and access controls to safeguard all our user accounts. Tile uses the Bluetooth component of the Sidewalk network to locate lost items, and compatible Echo devices extend Tile's network coverage even further, helping customers securely locate misplaced keys, wallets, and other items. For more information, please review the Sidewalk FAQ Page."
To access your Tile mobile app, you need a Tile account which requires a password. Passwords have minimum length requirements and are stored in one-way hashed, salted format.
Yes, they do regularly push automatic updates. However, users’ phone configurations determine if users automatically pick up these new mobile builds.
Tile has a bug bounty program
The biggest risks of using Bluetooth trackers like Apple AirTag, TileCNBC
The Popular Family Safety App Life360 Is Selling Precise Location Data on Its Tens of Millions of UsersThe Markup
Life360 Says It Will Stop Selling Precise Location DataThe Markup
Bluetooth tracker Tile is taking a new approach to stopping thieves and stalkersCNBC
AirTag and Tile stalking remains a thorny problemAxios
Privacy Evaluation for Life360Common Sense Privacy Program
5 Best AirTag Alternatives for Android UsersGuiding Tech
Someone can track you with a Tile or AirTag – Red flags you’re being followedKomando.com
Stop Pretending Apple and Amazon's Bluetooth Networks Can't Be AbusedGizmodo
Pros and Cons of Amazon’s Sidewalk Network. Plus, How to Opt Out.Consumer Reports
The Best Bluetooth TrackerNew York Times
Understanding Amazon SidewalkElectronic Frontier Foundation
I found my stolen Honda Civic using a Bluetooth tracker. It’s the latest controversial weapon against theft.The Washington Post
Tile + Amazon SidewalkTile
New Tile Devices Prove That AirTags Have Room For ImprovementForbes
AirTag vs Tile: What's the Difference?Gear Patrol
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