Popular weather app has been tracking and selling user data without permission, according to lawsuit

Los Angeles prosecutors have sued the operators of one of the nation’s most popular weather apps for allegedly tracking users and selling their data to third parties. According to a statement issued by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer on January 4, a lawsuit has been filed against the operators of the Weather Channel mobile app. The lawsuit accuses the app operators of “allegedly covertly mining the private data of users and selling the information to third parties, including advertisers.” Prosecutors say that the Weather Channel app uses geolocation technology to monitor user locations 24 hours a day even though it promised users that it would only use the location technology to provide personalized weather information.

The suit alleges that the app “tracks users’ movement in minute detail, even when users are not actively using it.” The lawsuit accuses the app operators of sharing user location data with parent company IBM as well as other third party companies for “advertising and other commercial purposes entirely unrelated to the weather.” The app operators also sold the data to hedge fund operators seeking information about consumer behavior, according to the lawsuit. The Weather Channel app operators are also accused of deliberately obscuring the way it will use geolocation data information in its privacy policy in order to convince about 80% of users to allow the app access to that data. The suit seeks to force the Weather Channel app operators to stop “deceptively collecting and selling personal data” in addition to $2500 in civil penalties for each violation. Any court ruling would only apply in the state of California. IBM has denied any wrong doing. More than 45 million people use the Weather Channel app.

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