The City of Los Angeles has sued The Weather Channel for covertly mining user location data and selling them to third-party advertisers which include IBM affiliates and others. The lawsuit states that the data has been shared with no relation to weather forecasting or related activities. This is not the first time a weather app has been sued, however, WeatherBug has been caught by the NY Times for selling exact location data of the users to dubious third parties.
The city attorney of LA states that The Weather Channel app secretly profited from data of millions of users. To give a hint, TWC app has more than 45 million monthly active users. The city attorney said in a statement:
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.
An IBM spokesperson has defended the use of the data by TWC in a statement:
The Weather Company has always been transparent with use of location data; the disclosures are fully appropriate, and we will defend them vigorously.
Another app called AccuWeather would even collect user location even if you have turned off the location on your phone. The tests conducted on this app sparked public outrage and forced the company to issue an apology. However, critics still weren’t satisfied with the response of the company and even the updated version of the app used to do the exact same thing.
Publishers adopt shady practices to increase their revenue. All these lawsuits are just a start of a massive crackdown on tech companies regarding data sharing and violations. Will we ever see a platform which ensures complete privacy?
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