It contends that one of IBM's primary reasons for buying the Weather Company was to profit from this data. The complaint also says the Weather Channel profited from the data, "using it and monetizing it for purposes entirely unrelated to weather or the Weather Channel App".
"For years, (the Weather Company) has deceptively used its Weather Channel App to amass its users" private, personal, geolocation data - tracking minute details about its users' locations throughout the day and night, all the while leading users to believe that their data will only be used to provide them with "personalized local weather data, alerts and weather forecasts,"' the lawsuit says. "This app seems to be benign; how many of you would suspect that to get a weather app, we would be tracked 24/7?"
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The Los Angeles city attorney's office announced Friday that it has sued the parent company of the Weather Channel, alleging that for years it has misleadingly and unlawfully collected and sold the private data of its mobile app users. "Unbeknownst to its users, TWC's core business is amassing and profiting from user location data".
The IBM-owned Weather Channel app has been transmitting its users' precise geolocation data to advertisers and other third parties despite telling users that their location data was needed only for providing local weather data, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by California government officials.
The suit is looking for civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation of the law, per the Times, which could collectively total millions of dollars in fines for the Weather Company given the number of California residents who potentially have the app. The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has a lot to say about companies that take people's personal data for one objective but use it for another, and fines stretch as high as 4% of global revenue.
A recent New York Times report highlighted these issues as well, describing how The Weather Company, an IBM subsidiary, shared users' location data and even analyzed it for hedge funds that were interested in consumer behavior.