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

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.

By "combing" through the almost 10,000-word privacy policy, the complaint says, users can learn "that their geolocation may be tracked for purposes other than 'personalized local weather data, alerts and forecasts'".

You might've been deceived into sharing your location data with company partners, according to a lawsuit from Los Angeles' city attorney.

Feuer says the app's operators intentionally obscured its motives in a lengthy privacy policy that got four-fifths of users to agree to share geolocation data.

After downloading the app, users are prompted to allow it to access their location data, but how that data will be shared isn't noted in the prompt.

"If the cost of a weather forecast will be the sacrifice of deeply private information - like precisely where we are, day and night - it must be clear, in advance", said Feuer in a statement.

More than 1,000 apps contain location-sharing code created by companies who share it with advertisers. Google evidently didn't even do that: In 2017, the search biz was accused of collecting data on Android phones regardless of whether users allowed such collection. But even these "sections of the app are less than forthcoming regarding TWC's uses of geolocation data", with the advertising usage described vaguely and "scattered through various sections of the almost 10,000-word Privacy Policy", the complaint said.

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The lawsuit pulls IBM into the broader conversation about how tech companies use consumer data that has roiled the industry in the past two years and prompted intense questions from politicians, users and regulators.

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.

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.

In the report, Feuer claimed 80 percent of supposedly "45 million" app users agreed to terms the app would track geolocation data.

Feuer seeks the injunction and penalties "to punish TWC for its egregious conduct and to deter TWC from engaging in the same or similar conduct in the future". Instead, according to the complaint, the app sells the data for ad-targeting purposes.

"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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