Lawsuit alleges Weather Channel App sells users’ personal info

Photo: Brian Melley, AP

Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer sued the operator of a free, popular weather forecast app alleging that the company misled consumers by hiding the fact that it was selling their personal location data.  The Associated Press reported that TWC Product and Technology LLC (which is owned by IBM Corp.) sold data to hedge funds that used the information to analyze consumer behavior and to more than a dozen websites for targeted ads. Feuer wants the company to end the data sales and is seeking penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation. But any decision would only apply in California since the lawsuit is being brought in state court there.

  • In California, consumers are about to have much more say about the privacy of their data because next year the country’s most far-reaching law to give people more control over their personal data online will go into effect there.
  • The City Attorney is alleging fraud because the company’s use of personal data is not revealed when consumers download the app.  The company is purportedly collecting more than one billion pieces of location data per week based on user locations.
  • The company vows to fight and argues that it has notified consumers because its privacy policy on its website says the data can be used for “‘geographically relevant ads and content’ and may be shared with ‘partners’ for ‘the provision of services such as business operations, advertising solutions or promotions.'”
  • The Weather Channel on cable TV no longer owns the app — they sold it to IBM in 2015 for $2B.

Why This Matters:  The Weather Channel App is the most popular weather forecasting app in the world, with 45 million downloads each month, according to the company Facebook and Google are not the only companies taking advantage of their users.  Weather apps have become a key way that the dangers of severe weather are communicated to the mass public.  I (Monica) must check the weather for my location — not to mention my family’s — every day. This is not just impacting weather geeks like me. The public should not have to choose between their privacy rights and their safety from weather hazards.  IBM’s Watson really does know it all about you.  

Up Next

Tokyo 2020 Competition Heats Up, Literally

Tokyo 2020 Competition Heats Up, Literally

You may recall our interview with Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn where she explained the threat that climate change poses to winter olympic sports like hers. Now that the Tokyo Summer Olympics are underway, it’s all the more evident that climate change will continue affecting summer sports in a similar fashion. In Tokyo specifically, where climate […]

Continue Reading 507 words

Interview of the Week: Shanna Edberg, Hispanic Access Foundation

This week is Latino Conservation Week–a yearly initiative of the Hispanic Access Foundation that helps support the Latino community getting into the outdoors and participating in activities to protect our natural resources. While Latinos are a broad group, polls show they share a common concern for environmental protection, yet have traditionally been unrecognized for their […]

Continue Reading 170 words
Envisioning a Civilian Climate Corps

Envisioning a Civilian Climate Corps

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Echoing back to the Civilian Conservation Corps of last century, a Civilian Climate Corps would employ young people across the country in government jobs taking on the climate crisis. The modern corps concept has been introduced as legislation by Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur since 2008 and was articulated as […]

Continue Reading 453 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.