Published: Mon, January 07, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

LA suing IBM-owned Weather Channel over user location tracking

LA suing IBM-owned Weather Channel over user location tracking

Defendant TWC Product and Technology LLC owns and operates The Weather Channel App, which can be downloaded on Apple and Android products. IBM has actively worked to paint itself as having better data practices than consumer platforms like Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.

He added, "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". "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", Michael Feuer, said according to a report by the Associated Press.

Feuer told reporters Friday that the case represents a defense of Americans' privacy in a digital age where their location data is frequently stored and shared without prior knowledge.

The attorney elected to represent the second-most populated city in the country is seeking an injunction against the Weather Channel to stop what he alleges are "unfair business practices and civil penalties" to punish and deter the company from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

The app maker "intentionally obscures this information 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 said. Citing an October 18, 2016 post by Michelle Manafy on another blog, digitalcontentnext.org, the complaint states: "As the general manager of TWC's Consumer Division admitted, '(i) f a consumer is using your product and says, 'Hey, wait a minute, why do they want to know where I am?' ... you are going to have some problems". The Weather Channel seen on TV was not acquired by IBM and is owned by a different company.

The complaint alleges that the Weather Channel app has collected detailed location data on app users for years and that the Weather Company has analyzed and/or transferred the data to third parties for targeted advertising and to help hedge funds understand consumer behavior.

'In fact, unbeknownst to its users, TWC's core business is amassing and profiting from user location data, ' it continues.

The lawsuit cites some statistics, claiming the Weather Channel app is used by 45 million users a month, with 80 percent of users allowing the app access to geolocation information. Any court decision would only apply to California.

Mobile apps and high-tech companies like Google and Facebook have also faced scrutiny in the previous year for similar reasons - tracking personal data of its users, according to the report. But Feuer said the company has yet to correct the practices at the heart of the lawsuit.

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