Weather Channel app accused of selling users’ personal data

Weather Channel app accused of selling users’ personal data

Weather Channel app accused of selling users’ personal data

IBM responded to the Times saying: "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 transmits the data to third parties, including advertising and marketing companies, the complaint said.", the Weather Channel App transferred users' geolocation data to at least a dozen third-party websites over the past 19 months", the complaint said.

"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 city of Los Angeles has sued to stop the operator of The Weather Channel's mobile phone application from allegedly "covertly mining the private data of users and selling the information to third parties, including advertisers".

IBM's Weather Company, which operates the app, says it has been downloaded over 100 million times and has 45 million active monthly users.

"Unbeknownst to many users, the Weather Channel App has tracked users' detailed geolocation data for years", the complaint alleges, calling the Weather Channel's actions "unfair and fraudulent".

Apparently, user location data gathered via the app has been "transferred to others for profit", despite TWC's claims that it only uses said data to improve the accuracy of weather predictions.

"The app misleadingly suggests that such data will be used only to provide users with 'personalized local weather data, alerts and forecasts, '" the complaint said.

In one case, users" location data was used "to target McDonald's McCafé coffee offerings toward millennials who-according to that geolocation data-frequented "breakfast-style diners, '" the complaint said. The Weather Channel seen on TV was not acquired by IBM and is owned by a different company. For that, you have to dig into the app's privacy settings and read the privacy policy, which Los Angeles officials claim is an effort to obscure the data collection that can actually occur.

Poor data privacy standards seem to be the norm for many tech companies nowadays, but it seems even older institutions - like The Weather Channel (TWC) - aren't immune to similar problems.

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.

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