Friday, 22 March, 2019

Weather Channel App Accused Of Selling Users' Personal 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
Russell Knight | 05 January, 2019, 22:25

IBM bought the app along with the digital assets of The Weather Company in 2015 for $2 billion but did not acquire The Weather Channel seen on TV, which is owned by another company.

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. TWC's app was targeted, he said, because it touches all demographics and seems benign and innocuous, because the company claims to have the largest trove of geolocation data and because the company did little to change its practices in the wake of the New York Times expose.

Mobile apps and high-tech companies like Google and Facebook have also faced scrutiny in the past year for similar reasons - tracking personal data of its users, according to the report.

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

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties up to $2,500 for each violation by the Weather Channel. And it says that TWC intentionally hides the fact that it shares location data in its lengthy privacy policy because the company recognizes many users would object to such data sharing if they knew of it.

"The Weather Company has always been transparent with use of location data", a company representative said in response to the lawsuit "The disclosures are fully appropriate, and we will defend them vigorously". 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.

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Chance to see meteor shower in skies over north-east tonight
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In third place, is something new called the Flexitarian Diet. "Sometimes the best ways are the old, simple ways", Peick says. In fact, one study found the diet may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by as much as 53 percent.

Feuere said TWC Product and Technology sold user data to several websites and other companies that track user data and behavioral patterns.

Feure said he hopes the recent lawsuit against the Weather Channel app will help curb any other apps from obtaining data from its users and turning it around for profit.

Hundreds of popular apps are collecting location data that they claim is anonymous, but further analysis shows it can be easily linked to specific users.

This amounts to about half of all smartphones in use during 2017.

The publication found at least 75 companies that collected precise location and "on at least one occasion logging a person's whereabouts more than 14,000 times in just one day". The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has a lot to say about companies that take people's personal data for one objective but use it for another, and fines stretch as high as 4% of global revenue.

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