Family Tracker/Monitor App

I’m curious if the community here has any interesting feedback or thoughts about development of an L5 “location sharing” app, similar to Life360. But…with only the most basic features (location/alerts), and with a design that respects user privacy and lets us keep control over our data.

Obviously, such an app would need to either (somehow) connect L5s directly, or we’d need to host our own private server to relay periodic location updates. However doing this securely, preferably without an untrusted cloud provider, seems to be a big challenge.

The scope would only be to allow small circles of people (wife, kids, etc.) to see where the others are on a street map, and possibly automatically trigger notification alarms when they enter certain locations.

Does anyone have any thoughts about the feasibility of building such an app and/or what strategies might be employed to do it safely?


Maybe this is similar to “Find my phone” and various other lost / stolen phone tracking use cases, which have been discussed in this forum previously.

and perhaps other topics.

Firstly, I’ll openly admit that I am not a parent nor have I ever been a caregiver to a minor. However, I do work in physical security and have written a few reports involving young children over the years :frowning: I’m of the opinion that technology should not be used as a nanny or substitute for parenting even a little bit .


OK, point taken, but let’s say a person is using technology as an adjunct to parenting. Even a well-watched child can wander off …


Again, I’m not a parent but I think the point of watching well is that the child hasn’t an opportunity to wander off. I really don’t want to go down this rabbit hole, but I can tell you that money is the primary motivator for attempts to take harmful pictures of children in a retail environment and by people who are simply greedy (not sick).

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My kids are in their teenage years and as such we have given them a certain amount of freedom. That freedom comes with a price, that price being me and my wife knowing where they are at all times and having the capability to contact them if we need to. I trust my kids but as the saying goes trust but verify. Trust is a commodity and once it’s broken it takes a long time to regain and I will judge every action and statement.


Some of this comes down to age/maturity of a child. A 3-4 year old that wonders off with a phone to play games in a different spot is very different from a 16 year old that has their own drivers license and can “wonder off” by driving somewhere other than home after school. Both are still “children” at least in the US.

There’s obviously a pretty significant range in between those extremes with no solid transition line because it is a grey line that depends on so many things.

With that said, the only way I can see this working is if the parent owns the phone and configures a lesser account for the child on the phone then uses some software that will almost certainly not be available at launch to do this.

I think this solution will eventually show up, both for parents and for businesses where the business owns the device and can track the device location as this is desirable in some situations. For the short term Android/iPhone ecosystems have built out this functionality so would be more practical for now, and I think it’s worth noting neither had this functionality in the beginning and there was a time when people said it would never come to either because of privacy concerns… Yet here we are.


Ahem, kids aside, this can be useful for adults if used with their consent. I share my home commute with my wife so she knows when to expect me home, for instance.


I suspect you may be a much better watcher than the average person …

Perhaps we could leave all the debate about whether someone should use an application like this, the ethics, how well watched is well watched, yada yada yada and go to the actual question - which is really a technology question.

I’m not going to the technology question at this time because my priorities are:

  1. Get a working phone!
  2. Get the apps that are important to me

As per the links that I opened with, quite apart from the use case that you are alluding to.

For your use case, the originally posed question relates to … OK, so you are happy to share your location with your wife but how is that implemented so that you are not sharing your location with any other party, potentially even in the presence of a court order or backdoor government action?

In your use case this may be relatively easy with “L5 app phone home (quasi-literally)” whereas the original question raised a trickier option of L5-to-L5 communication.

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By sending the location data to our private Nextcloud server which has the phonetrack app installed, so that the data is stored in our house and only accessible by us. :slight_smile:


as the rule goes if you get distracted as a parent/guardian EVEN-FOR-A-SECOND … you have already lost :sweat_smile:


No they haven’t. They’ve removed specific apps from their respective stores when called out by traditional media (yaay traditional media ! :slight_smile: ) but they still pop up. As well, there are other sources of apps.

Spyware apps allow stalkers to monitor their victim’s phone use, including listening to phone calls, reading messages and emails, tracking GPS locations, viewing browsing history, photos and social media.


These apps are often marketed as tools for parents to monitor their children’s phone activities. However, one popular app, which the Guardian has chosen not to name, markets itself as “software that can … track your wife’s phone, anytime and from anywhere”. The app was removed from the iTunes store after Apple was contacted by the Guardian.

Also, some of my coworkers are being tracked by phones the company owns as we speak (by a bespoke program my company uses).

I’m not insinuating anyone here has those motivations, but if we’re discussing the technology then I think we should also address the overall market (which sadly is the aforementioned :frowning: )

Uh, wait, hold on. There are a million non parents out there who would be a better XYZ if they had kids; I, on the other hand, have answered enough calls that were essentially “As soon as my husband gets home please come out with me so I don’t kill my children !” to know that I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to parenting at all! However, I do see a danger in the technology becoming accepted as a replacement instead of an adjunct to parenting for some people (because people still ditch their kids in stores alone and figure they’re safe).

Me too. In the case of the Librem 5 I’d consider working to also include the fact that the end user has the ability to disable tracking at the hardware level :slight_smile:

I think you’re mixing some things together. iOS and Android have absolutely built out parental control features including those being asked about by the OP.

The only feature the life360 app the op mentions that I don’t see advertised by apple between these two sites is geofencing.

I didn’t go looking for Android links but I’m sure at a minimum Samsung has equivalent pages set up like those.

Some apps attempt to abuse those features and get removed and some apps market themselves in ways that are against terms/agreements and get removed. Pointing at these while ignoring the built in features as well as the applications that have stayed within the guidelines (life360/AirWatch/etc) and are still around is misleading.

The topic of should something exist because it can be misused to do “evil/bad” is a philosophical one not a technological one. From what I’ve seen of your posts we’re mostly on the same side just communicate in different ways.

A significant barrier for software monitoring/checkin with the Librem 5, compared to everything else right now, is the physical kill switches (disabling tracking at the hardware level :wink: ). This would allow those being monitored to avoid the monitoring. I suspect a hard reboot would also clear the system completely at this point to bypass any monitoring.

This also implies a lost/stolen Librem 5 can be much more easily reused as there would be nothing blocking the thief/finder from just resetting and using the phone. If the modem is blocked by the carrier swapping the modem revives the phone for a much lower cost than any other phone currently available.

Wait, what do you mean by ‘built out’ ?
Do you mean:

  1. Altered the firmware to disallow any other than whitelisted uses by approved programs ?
  2. Restricting offer of programs with tracking capabilities in their respective stores ?
  3. Made available ?

build-out (noun)
the growth, development, or expansion of something.

These are both skirting the edges of the context of this conversation at best.

The restrictions were there from the beginning, the methods of enforcement may have improved over time, but these restrictions were there from the beginning. (And in the case of Android a bypass has been there from the beginning as well)

In the context of this conversation, this is the closest though I’m not quite sure what your goal is by wording your options this way as mine of them really constitute growth/development/expansion over time.

Both Apple and Google have made this functionality more available and more capable than it was when they first launched.

This has been my reference point from the beginning; as I’m using the change over time as a suggested expectation for any similar functionality on the Librem 5 to require change over time. It’s already been noted that some of this functionality is available via Nextcloud and in turn that will likely be adopted to the Librem 5 fairly quickly while some of the other capability is not there, as such is will likely become available over time.

Yes, me too, but the original question was just about how to do the technology safely under the assumption that someone, somewhere, sometime will do it anyway.

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Because I thought I may have been misunderstanding the words “built-out” themselves all along. To me, built-out would indicate intentionally omitting or restricting something. Perhaps it’s from a lifetime of being exposed to Canadian ads, etc. (i.e. “baked in wholesome goodness”), but I was right and that’s where my err was :slight_smile:

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I was thinking about what @spaetz said about having application for adult users too (specifically I was thinking for people with alzheimers and the term “geofencing”) and perhaps a program where you can set the phone to start screaching extremely and obnoxiously loudly should it leave designated “home positioning” (that you could password protect to set, at what time interval, etc. etc.)

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Yes, all of the above. All good things for people to choose to do - provided that it is designed from the ground up with privacy paramount - avoid leaking, avoid abuse.

It is possible that a conventional navigation app would also be helpful where some form of dementia is present i.e. to guide the person back.

If it is the phone of the person in question then no need for any fancy communication. The phone itself, without recourse to the internet, can geofence - and alert the person and guide the person back.