Los Angeles Sues Weather Company App Over Geolocation Tracking 01/07/2019

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The complaint also says the Weather Channel profited from the data, "using it and monetizing it for purposes entirely unrelated to weather or the Weather Channel App".

"Think of how Orwellian it feels that a private company is tracking your location information everywhere and every day", Feuer 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", LA city attorney Michael Feuer told the publication.

Two years ago, AccuWeather was caught sending user location data, even when location sharing was off, a practice it continued even after being publicly exposed.

"On information and belief, TWC 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 lawsuit seeks to stop the company from the practice it deems "unfair and fraudulent" and seeks penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation. In fact, unbeknownst to its users, TWC's core business is amassing and profiting from user location data.

It contends that one of IBM's primary reasons for buying the Weather Company was to profit from this data.

That statement is attributed to an October 13, 2016 post by Stephanie Miles, on streetfightmag.com.

The Weather Channel app is the top app in the App Store's weather category and counts more than 100 million user downloads. Citing an October 18, 2016 post by Michelle Manafy on another blog, digitalcontentnext.org, the complaint states: "As the general manager of TWC's Consumer Division admitted, '(i) f a consumer is using your product and says, 'Hey, wait a minute, why do they want to know where I am?' ... you are going to have some problems". With 1 billion pieces of location data collected per week, the app had the largest set of location data in the world. If the prosecutors win the case, the total amount could run in millions of dollars depending on the number of app users in California.

Location tracking is a particularly contested area when it comes to data-sharing: Businesses value the ability to use geographic information to cater relevant messages to nearby consumers - an increasingly pressing issue in the industry, as marketing personalization often comes up short - but collection practices can be especially invasive in regulators' eyes and come off as creepy to users.

Feuer says The Weather Channel sold data to at least a dozen websites for targeted ads.

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.