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Weather Channel app accused of selling users’ personal data

07 January, 2019, 07:34 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
  • Los Angeles sues the Weather Channel app for misleading users

And it says that TWC intentionally hides the fact that it shares location data in its lengthy privacy policy because the company recognizes many users would object to such data sharing if they knew of it.

The app is part of The Weather Company digital assets that IBM acquired for $2 billion in 2015.

An IBM spokesman told the Times that the Weather Company has "always been transparent with use of location data" and that the businesses will "vigorously" defend their disclosures.

Feuer said The Weather Channel sold data to at least a dozen websites for targeted ads. The Weather Channel app claims to be "the world's most downloaded weather app" with around 45 million monthly active users.

"When seeking consent for geolocation tracking, the app does not. give users any reason to believe that their location data will be used for anything other than personalized local weather data, alerts and forecasts", the complaint reads.

The lawsuit says that the Weather Company misled users by asking them to turn on their location tracking so that it could deliver better information, and not providing the appropriate information.

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"If the price of getting a weather report is going to be the sacrifice of your most personal information about where you spend your time day and night...you sure as heck ought to be told clearly in advance", said Michael N. Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney, in a separate New York Times article published on January 4th.

The government alleges in the lawsuit that the company used the data in order to gain hedge fund data and analysis and for targeted marketing. Specifically, the information has reportedly been given to IBM (the company that owns TWC) affiliates for advertising and market research purposes.

Los Angeles officials aren't the only governmental authorities prosecuting tech companies over alleged privacy violations.

"TWC has then profited from that data, using it and monetizing it for purposes entirely unrelated to weather or the Weather Channel App".

He hopes to be successful with his pursuit of this lawsuit, but also hopes to encourage other companies to be clearer with details of their data sharing and selling practices.

California is frequently noted for enacting strong consumer protection laws, including the recently passed California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which goes into effect next year and grants residents the right to ask businesses to not sell their data. Anxieties over myriad state-level laws like the CCPA has recently led some organizations, including the Association of National Advertisers, to push for a comprehensive federal law that could lessen compliance burdens and legal complexities around data collection.

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