Weather Channel app denies data wrongdoing

Weather Channel app denies data wrongdoing

"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", City Attorney Michael N. Feuer said in a statement.

The city attorneys of Los Angeles on Thursday sued the developer of the Weather Channel app for allegedly collecting, sharing and profiting from user location data without users' permission.

In the lawsuit, Feuer adds that the company's "core business is amassing and profiting from user location data" and its failure to notify users of its intent is "no mere oversight".

A spokesman for IBM Corp., which owns the app, denied the allegations.

"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 and the city of LA are now seeking a court injunction that would prohibit TWC from continuing its practice of sharing user location data with partners, but also civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation.

The Weather Channel app is the top app in the App Store's weather category and counts more than 100 million user downloads.

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"Unfortunately, TWC takes advantage of its app's widespread popularity by using it as an intrusive tool to mine users' private geolocation data, which TWC then sends 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", the complaint said.

Feuer said the app's operators, TWC Product and Technology LLC, sold data to at least a dozen websites for targeted ads and to hedge funds that used the information to analyze consumer behavior.

The app is part of The Weather Company digital assets that IBM acquired for $2 billion in 2015.

IBM says The Weather Company has always been transparent with its use of location data.

The lawsuit follows a bombshell report last month that said the Weather Channel, GasBuddy and Weather Bug collect extensive data from users without their consent.

In June, California lawmakers approved what experts are calling the country's most far-reaching law to give people more control over their personal data online.

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.

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