America’s Favorite Door-Locking App Has a Data Privacy Problem
Great for landlords. Not so great for you.
Latch is on a mission to digitize the front door, offering apartment entry systems that forgo traditional keys in favor of being able to unlock entries with a smartphone. The company touts convenience — who wants to fiddle with a metal key? — and has a partnership with UPS, so you can get packages delivered inside your lobby without a doorman. But while it may keep homes private and secure, the same can’t be said about tenants’ personal data.
Latch — which has raised $96 million in venture capital funding since launching in 2014, including $70 million in its Series B last year — offers three products. Two are entry systems for specific units, and one is for lobbies and other common areas like elevators and garages. The company claims one in 10 new apartment buildings in the U.S. is being built with its products, with leading real estate developers like Brookfield and Alliance Residential now installing them across the country.
“Smart locks can be a great convenience and even privacy-enhancing for residents by allowing them to change codes when they wish or to allow one-time entry by a service provider, but they need strict privacy design and information governance to ensure they don’t cause more harm than good,” Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum, a nonprofit advocating for principled data practices in support of emerging technologies, tells OneZero. “[Latch’s]…