Weather Channel app sued over alleged mining of users’ data


"The Weather Company has always been transparent with use of location data", said IBM, "the disclosures are fully appropriate, and we will defend them vigorously".

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.

Depending on how the lawsuit filed Thursday plays out, it could come as a serious credibility and financial blow, not just to the Weather Company, but also IBM.

The suit alleges that The Weather Company is actually motivated by sending this data to "IBM affiliates and other third parties for advertising and other commercial purposes entirely unrelated to either weather or the Weather Channel App's services". "TWC is able to convince approximately 80% of the Weather Channel App's users to grant access to their geolocation data".

"TWC intentionally obscures this information" in a 10,000-word privacy policy "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 goes on to say.

Feuer is seeking $2,500 for each instance of a user being duped in this way, accusing the company of engaging in "unfair and fraudulent" practices.

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IBM Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty has used the attention around data privacy to try and differentiate IBM from other tech companies, saying the dominant consumer tech platforms should face more scrutiny from regulators.

"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.

Los Angeles city prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against a popular weather app- the Weather Channel app- for covertly selling users' private data to advertisers. The company is said to collect more than a billion pieces of location data per week.

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 said the company stopped sharing information with hedge funds following the story last month by The Times that highlighted the practice.

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.