IBM’s Weather Channel being sued by Los Angeles over claims its app deceived users into allowing their location to be tracked so it could sell the data
- Lawsuit says the Weather Channel obtained and sold user data to third parties
- Bombshell report claimed it and other apps collect user data without consent
A new lawsuit filed by the city of Los Angeles alleges the Weather Channel misled millions of users into allowing it to access their personal location data, then profiting off it in the process by selling it to third parties.
City Attorney Michael Feuer said Friday that users of the popular app are misled to think their location data will only be used for personalized forecasts and alerts.
The lawsuit follows a bombshell report last month that said the Weather Channel, GasBuddy and Weather Bug collect extensive data from users without their consent.
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A new lawsuit alleges the Weather Channel misled millions of users into allowing it to access their personal location data, then profiting off it in the process by selling it to third parties
The Weather Channel app is the top app in the App Store’s weather category and counts more than 100 million user downloads.
‘For years, [The Weather Channel] has deceptively used its Weather Channel App to amass its users’ private, personal geolocation data – tracking minute details about its users’ locations throughout the day and night, all while leading users to believe that their data will only be used to provide them with “personalized local weather data, alerts and forecasts,’ the lawsuit states.
‘TWC has then profited from that data, using it and monetizing it for purposes entirely unrelated to weather or the Weather Channel app.
‘In fact, unbeknownst to its users, TWC’s core business is amassing and profiting from user location data,’ it continues.
Feuer said The Weather Channel sold data to at least a dozen websites for targeted ads.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Superior Court of the County of Los Angeles, seeks civil penalties up to $2,500 for each violation by the Weather Channel
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties up to $2,500 for each violation by the Weather Channel.
The Weather Channel did not immediately return a request for comment.
IBM, which acquired the app in 2015, told the Verge: ‘The Weather Company has always been transparent with use of location data; the disclosures are fully appropriate, and we will defend them vigorously.’
The lawsuit comes as companies such as Facebook and Google are under fire for sharing users’ information.
WHICH APPS ARE STEALING YOUR LOCATION DATA?
Hundreds of popular apps are collecting location data that they claim is anonymous, but further analysis shows it can be easily linked to specific users.
These apps include ones like the Weather Channel, GasBuddy and WeatherBug, many of which inform users that they collect location data, but not necessarily how the data will be used, an investigation from the New York Times found.
This amounts to about half of all smartphones in use during 2017.
More than 1,000 apps contain location-sharing code created by companies who share it with advertisers.
Popular apps like the Weather Channel and GasBuddy are collecting location data that they claim is anonymous, but further analysis shows it can be easily linked to specific users
Some of them collect precise location coordinates and refresh that information thousands of times each day.
The Times looked at 20 apps that collect location data and found that popular ones, including the Weather Channel, GasBuddy, theScore and others didn’t properly notify users of how their data would be managed.
About 75 companies receive precise location data from apps whose users enable location services and several of those businesses say they track up to 200 million devices in the U.S.