U.S.

Is The Weather Channel App Selling User Info For Profit? One Lawsuit Says So

The Los Angeles City Attorney filed a lawsuit against the Weather Channel app on Friday, citing the operator of the app tracked every move of its millions of users and profited from it.

City Attorney Michael Feuer said users of the app were misled in a 10,000-word privacy policy agreement in which users agreed to share their location in exchange for up-to-date weather information, according to the Associated Press report.

In the report, Feuer claimed 80 percent of supposedly “45 million” app users agreed to terms the app would track geolocation data.

"Think how Orwellian it feels to live in a world where a private company is tracking potentially every place you go, every minute of every day," Feuer said. "If you want to sacrifice to that company that information, you sure ought to be doing it with clear advanced notice of what's at stake."

The Weather Channel app, marketed as the world’s most-downloaded app, is owned by IBM Corp. and operated by TWC Product and Technology LLC.

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

The City of Los Angeles, which filed the suit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks penalties up to $2,500 per violation, and wants the company to halt practices the city calls “unfair and fraudulent.”

A spokesperson for IBM defended the terms of agreement policy, saying there was no attempts at deception and calls its disclosures “fully appropriate.”

The Weather Channel is owned by a company other than IBM, which purchased the app and other Weather Channel digital assets for $2 billion in 2015, according to the AP report.

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

California lawmakers have already passed measures to give digital users more control over their own personal data. This law passed last June will take effect within the next year.

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.

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