Monday, 25 March, 2019

City of LA sues Weather Channel over location data

Los Angeles sues the Weather Channel app for misleading users LA attorney sues The Weather Channel, says its mobile app improperly gathers user location data
Orlando Vargas | 05 January, 2019, 22:28

TWC's app doesn't just track anonymous data like your general area (such as your city or state) - it tracks your zip code, and your "minute", moment-to-moment movements whether you're using the app or not.

The app maker "intentionally obscures this information because it recognizes that many users would not permit the Weather Channel App to track their geolocation if they knew the true uses of that data", the complaint said.

The lawsuit claims the Weather Channel mobile app, for both Android and iOS, uses deceptive tactics to trick users into granting access to geolocation information.

The Weather Channel app, marketed as the world's most-downloaded app, is owned by IBM Corp. and operated by TWC Product and Technology LLC. "If you want to sacrifice to that company that information, you sure ought to be doing it with clear advanced notice of what's at stake".

The complaint alleges that the Weather Channel app has collected detailed location data on app users for years and that the Weather Company has analyzed and/or transferred the data to third parties for targeted advertising and to help hedge funds understand consumer behavior.

Notably, data privacy is increasingly becoming a cause of concern for the lawmakers with major tech companies including Facebook and Google being subjected to intensive questioning by not only by the lawmakers in the USA and the European Union but also governments across the globe.

"The Weather Company has always been transparent with use of location data; the disclosures are fully appropriate, and we will defend them vigorously", the company said in an emailed statement.

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More than 1,000 apps contain location-sharing code created by companies who share it with advertisers.

In a press conference streamed via Twitter - under investigation by Ireland's Data Protection Commission over its collection of user location data - Feuer expressed skepticism about IBM's defense of its subsidiary.

The lawsuit seeks to stop the company from the practice it calls "unfair and fraudulent" and seeks penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation.

Civil penalties and an injunction are needed "to punish TWC [The Weather Company] for its egregious conduct and to deter TWC from engaging in the same or similar conduct in the future", the lawsuit said.

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.

"The issue of our privacy in the digital age is one of the most fundamental issues we confront today", he said.

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