The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) owned Weather Channel is facing a lawsuit for sharing people’s geolocation data to advertiser’s and other third parties, without their permission. The channel has been keeping a track of the geolocation of users over the years and sharing this data to third parties.
The lawsuit was filed on Thursday by the California Government officials. The Los Angeles City Attorney Micheal N. Feuer is representing the people of the state of California. The lawsuit has been filled in the County Superior Court of California.
The Weather Channel (TWC) markets the popular weather app and it is one of the downloaded weather apps with approximately 45 million (4.5 crores) monthly users. According to the lawsuit, TWC took advantage of the user's private geolocation and shared it further with advertisers for commercial purposes.
It is also mentioned in the lawsuit that this app misleadingly suggests that data will only be used to provide weather updates. The amount of geolocation data the app holds is said to be one of the main reasons that IBM bought the company.
When the users of Android and iOS are asked for the permission to turn on location tracker, the app says that it needs location data only to provide local weather information.
It does not “give users any reason to believe that their location data will be used for anything other than personalized local weather data, alerts, and forecasts," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also states “Unbeknownst to many users, the Weather Channel App has tracked users' detailed geolocation data for years, analyzing and/or transferring that data to third parties for a variety of commercial and advertising purposes”.
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.
The lawsuit also states that the company transmitted the geolocation of the users to at least a dozen third-party websites in the span of 19 months. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to put an end to the unfair business practices and civil penalties to punish and to refrain from any similar activity in the future.